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Contributions to Biography of Jeremy Catto

An Orielensis and history teacher at Cranleigh School, Surrey, David Vaiani (2001, History) is writing a biography of Jeremy Catto. The book is to be published by Unicorn Publishing at the end of next summer.

Jeremy was a tutorial fellow in Medieval History at Oriel from 1970 until his retirement in 2006 and is widely acknowledged to have been an inspirational teacher who was incredibly devoted to his students.

David writes that “generations of Orielenses owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”

The basic structure of David’s book will be broadly chronological, with the bulk of the book devoted to the time Jeremy spent at Oxford, which will be handled in a more thematic manner.

With the kind permission of the Provost, David will have access to Oriel’s archives to assist him with his research. This will allow him to get some way in building a written portrait of Jeremy. However, David would like to supplement the section on Jeremy’s “Oxford years” with as many stories, anecdotes and memories as possible from those who were taught by him, or who knew him during their time at Oxford.

A large part of David’s job will be to edit this material, weaving it together with the more biographical elements of his story.

If you are keen to contribute a story, anecdote or memory of Jeremy’s time at Oxford, it may help to consider the following questions, before you submit your contributions to David:

  • If you were interviewed by him, what do you remember about the interview?
  • How would you describe his teaching style?
  • What were his tutorials like?
  • What made him a great teacher?
  • As a fellow of Oriel College, he saw it as his job to be a mainstay of its community and a mentor to students past and present. What do you remember about his attachment to college life?
  • He was Senior Dean at Oriel for many years. How would you describe his attitude towards pastoral matters and discipline?
  • Many people enjoyed his company. What made him such stimulating company?
  • What do you recall about his personality?
  • How would you describe his sense of humour?
  • Can you think of any stories that may highlight a particular aspect of his personality?

The book will also cover Jeremy’s early life before Oxford, his scholarship, his time with the Union, Canning and Grid, as well as his retirement, final years and overall legacy.

If you would like to contribute your thoughts in relation to any of these topics, please do get in touch with David.

The book will be published at the end of next summer, so David is hoping to have your contributions in place by the end of November 2023, and definitely no later than the end of 2023.

He does not want to put in place a hard deadline for contributions but hopes that this timeframe will give anyone thinking about contributing enough time to think about what they want to say, as well as enough time to put that into writing.

If and when you send your contributions, please state when you were at Oriel, what you studied and what you are doing today.

Ideally, David would like to reference contributions in full throughout the book. However, if you wish to contribute to the book, but prefer to remain anonymous, your wish will of course be respected.

Contributions should be submitted in writing to

If you prefer to speak to David over the telephone, or if you have any questions about the book, please send him an email, and he will be happy to share his telephone number with you.