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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Zuleika Dobson  

Cover for Penguin's 1961 edition of Zuleika Dobson. Illustration by George Him
Author Max Beerbohm
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Satirical, Novel
Publication date 1911
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Preceded by none
Followed by none

Zuleika Dobson, full title Zuleika Dobson, or, an Oxford love story, is a 1911 novel by Max Beerbohm, a satire of undergraduate life at Oxford. It was his only novel, but was nonetheless very successful.


Plot summary

Zuleika Dobson is a stunningly attractive young woman, a true femme fatale, who is a conjurer by profession. Zuleika manages to gain entrance to the privileged, all-male domain of Oxford University when she visits her grandfather, the Warden of Judas College (based on Merton College, Oxford, Beerbohm's alma mater). There she entices the undergraduates with her manner and looks; however, as she feels that she cannot love anyone unless he is impervious to her charms, she rejects her suitors and they are driven to suicide.

This satire includes such wonderful lines as "Death cancels all engagements" and presents a wickedly funny view of Edwardian Oxford.


Death of the Duke of Dorset

By an ancient tradition, on the eve of the death of a Duke of Dorset, two black owls come and perch on the battlements of Tankerton Hall, the family seat. The owls remain there through the night, hooting. At dawn they fly away, none knows whither.

In the course of the novel, the present Duke, an Oxford undergraduate, receives a telegram from his butler at Tankerton — "Deeply regret inform your grace last night two black owls came and perched on battlements remained there through night hooting at dawn flew away none knows whither awaiting instructions Jellings". The Duke promptly replies "Jellings Tankerton Hall Prepare vault for funeral Monday Dorset." Later the same day, a thunderstorm overwhelms the May Week boat races and the Duke drowns himself in the River Isis, wearing the robes of a Knight of the Garter. All of his fellow undergraduates, except one, promptly follow suit.

A Twist Ending

All of the Oxford undergraduates are dead, including the coward Noaks, who may or may not have died accidentally. "Zuleika," the author writes, "had taken full toll now." A few pages later, Zuleika has ordered a special train for the next morning... bound for Cambridge.

Meanwhile, the University's academic staff barely notice that all of their undergraduates have vanished.

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Zuleika Dobson
by Max Beerbohm
Information about this edition
"Zuleika Dobson" is a 1911 novel by Max Beerbohm, a satire of undergraduate life at Oxford. It was his only novel, but was nonetheless very successful.Excerpted from Zuleika Dobson on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.



PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1956, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


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