University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3PA
Holywell Cemetery, St.Cross Rd, City Centre, Oxford OX1 3TP, Regno Unito
Sir Cecil Maurice Bowra CH, FBA (8 April 1898 – 4 July 1971) was an English classical scholar, literary critic and academic, known for his wit. He was Warden of Wadham College, Oxford, from 1938 to 1970, and served as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1951 to 1954. The coining of the expression ‘Homintern’ is often attributed to Cyril Connolly, less often to Maurice Bowra, and sometimes to W.H. Auden; but Anthony Powell thought its source was Jocelyn Brooke, and Harold Norse claimed it for himself.
Bowra was homosexual. As an undergraduate in Oxford in the 1920s, Bowra was known to cruise for sex. He used the term "the Homintern" and privately referred to his leading position in it, also calling it "the Immoral Front" or "the 69th International".
A contemporary of Cyril Connolly at Oxford, Philip Ritchie was a brilliant homosexual with whom both Maurice Bowra and, later, Molly MacCarthy had fallen hopelessly in love. Connolly had asked Bowra to make "good blood" with Ritchie, who had become his "strongest fancy figure", in a purely intellectual sense. Philip Ritchie died aged 28 followsing a tonsillectomy on 13 September 1927. In his diary, Connolly wrote: "Philip's death has given me a nasty jolt — it is the fist time that someone who has played a serious though slight part in my own life has actually died, someone whom my greatest friends have loved, someone I would like to have slept with... though he never read anything and never wrote he always seemed to me the most complete intellectual and the quintessence of what was most Oxford. I sympathise with Maurice more than Molly for the latter had a silly mainly physical love affair and to Maurice he was a confessor and an ideal and his death must seem a kind of treachery."
He had a relationship with Ernst Kantorowicz. Kantorowicz left Oxford in July 1934 and Bowra went to visit him in Heidelberg, where he was staying with his female partner, Baby. Then, after the Oxford fall term, Bowra went to Berlin to see Kantorowicz and they lived in Kantorowicz's apartment for the period between Christmas and New Year's. A passage in a letter from Kantorowicz to Bowra of 1943 reminisces about talks they had on their "honeymoon."
Bowra retired in 1970, but continued to live in rooms in the college that had been granted to him in exchange for a house he owned. He became an honorary fellow of Wadham and was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law. He died of a sudden heart attack in 1971 and was buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford.
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