The 30 Most Famous Oxford Students of All Time

Kate Beckinsale

Photo: Helga Esteb/Shutterstock

The prestigious Oxford University has been teaching students since 1096—and it’s produced some of the greatest minds and successful people in the world.You’ve seen the famous alumni from Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Princeton. But even these prestigious schools don’t come close to the pedigree of England’s top school.

 

Robert Hooke received his M.A. in 1662 or 1663

Edmund Halley attended Oxford at the age of 16, but left in 1676 without graduating

Edmund Halley was a mathematician and astronomer who first calculated the orbit of the comet later named after him.

Halley's work in the field of astronomy was greatly influenced by John Flamsteed, the Astronomer Royal, whom he met while at Oxford.

William Penn was expelled from the university at 17 for protesting mandatory church attendance

John Wesley received his B.A. in logic and the classics in the 1720s

James Smithson received his M.A. in chemistry and mineralogy in 1786

After studying the natural sciences at Oxford, James Smithson went on to become a well-known chemist and mineralogist. At the time, there was not yet much research available on mineralogy.

His curiosity and work ethics eventually gained him recognition and The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. was named after him.

Lewis Carroll received a B.A. in mathematics with first-class honours in 1854

He was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, but is best known as Lewis Carroll -- the author of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.'

The book was published in 1865 and gained immediate success.

Oscar Wilde graduated with top honours in 1878 with a bachelor's degree in classical moderations

Oscar Wilde is known for leading the aesthetic movement and writing plays. Some of his most famous works are the novel 'The Picture of Dorian grey' and the play, 'The Importance of Being Earnest.'

Emily Wilding Davison received first-class honours in biology, chemistry and English in the early 1900s

A British activist, Emily Davison was a student at Royal Holloway College in addition to Oxford University during a time when most women were not able to receive university educations.

She was most-known as a militant suffragette during the Suffragette Movement who was eventually trampled to death by one of the king's horses in 1913, according to BBC History.

Edwin Hubble received his master's in jurisprudence, literature and Spanish in 1913

Edwin Hubble was an American astronomer who was the first to note the existence of galaxies beyond the Milky Way. He also developed the theory that the Universe is expanding. The Hubble telescope was named for him.

He studied at Oxford as one of the university's first Rhodes Scholars.

T.S. Eliot was awarded a scholarship in 1914 to study philosophy as a graduate student

Before becoming well-known as a poet, T.S. Eliot founded and edited the exclusive literary journal Criterion. Later he went on to pave the way for modern poetic prose in poetry from the 'Four Quartets' (1943) and 'The Waste Land' (1922).

He is also known for his notable plays 'Murder in the Cathedral,' 'The Family Reunion,' 'The Cocktail Party' -- and his book-turned-play, 'Cats.'


C.S. Lewis studied at Oxford during WWI

J.R.R. Tolkien graduated in 1915 with a degree in English

A brilliant linguist and author of 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, Tolkien was interested in languages but was encouraged to study English at Oxford.

When he graduated, Tolkien took a job with the Oxford English Dictionary. His first successful novel, 'The Hobbit,' grew out of a story that Tolkien told verbally to his children.

His publisher asked him for a sequel, and Tolkien subsequently wrote 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy.

Aldous Huxley won a scholarship to study English and graduated with first class honours in 1916

An acclaimed author and poet, Aldous Huxley based many of the characters in his books off of his contemporaries, including D.H. Lawrence, Frieda Lawrence, and John Middleton Murry.

In 1932, Huxley published 'A Brave New World,' the novel that became an international bestseller and earned him fame.

Dr. Seuss did his masters degree in English literature, but left the university in the 1920s before graduating

Theodor Seuss Geisel -- or more widely known as Dr. Suess -- is a poet and cartoonist. He wrote 44 popular children's books that he said were inspired by his mother.

His most famous books are 'The Cat in the Hat,' 'Green Eggs and Ham,' 'Horton Hears a Who' and 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas.'

David Ogilvy studied at the university, but left for Paris in 1931 without a degree

David Ogilvy was 38, unemployed, and knew nothing about marketing when he was hired to work at a London ad agency.

Three years later he was a well-known copywriter, and eventually founded the agency Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, which is the tenth biggest ad agency in the world

Margaret Thatcher earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1947 and graduated with Second Class honours

After researching chemistry post graduation, Margaret Thatcher became the Prime Minister of the U.K. She was the first female Prime Minister.

She was also a member of the Conservative party in Parliament and was elected in 1979, serving three terms according to the BBC history.

Rupert Murdoch attended in the early 1950s

Rupert Murdoch is best known for his position as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of News Corporation. He is the son of Keith Rupert Murdoch, who owned a number of local and regional newspapers.

Murdoch, who has made billions as a businessman and publisher, is now well known for the News of the World phone-hacking scandal in 2011.

Stephen Hawking received a B.A. degree in 1962

After studying physics, Stephen Hawking became a Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, the same position held by Isaac Newton in 1663. He is most famous for his book 'A Brief History of Time,' an international bestseller. He also wrote an essay collection, 'Black Holes and Baby Universe.'

In 1964 Hawking contracted a motor neuron disease and was told he only had two more years to live. However, he went on to Cambridge to become a researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College.

He is believed to be 'one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.'

Bill Bradley was a Rhodes Scholar and graduated in 1965

After graduation, Bill Bradley joined the New York Knicks and led the team to 10 Hall of Fame seasons. He also brought the Knicks to an NBA title in 1970 and again in 1973.

After retiring from the NBA, he went on to be state senator for New Jersey and taught at the University of Maryland, Stanford University and Notre Dame.

He has also written four books, according to the NBA website.

Andrew Lloyd Webber studied history at Oxford, but dropped out in 1965 to pursue a career in musical theatre

Bill Clinton attended in 1968 on a Rhodes Scholarship

Bill Clinton received his undergraduate degree Georgetown University. He was then awarded the Rhodes Scholarship and attended Oxford, but did not complete his degree due to worries about the draft.

Clinton was President of the United States from 1992 to 2000. He has also served five terms as the governor of Arkansas.

Rowan Atkinson received an MSc in Electrical Engineering in the 1970s

Rowan Atkinson is a British actor and comedian. He is famous for his satirical sketch comedy show 'Not the Nine O'Clock News,' which he co-wrote and starred in, according to the Internet Movie Database.

He was also in the sitcoms 'Blackadder,' 'Mr. Bean,' and 'The Thin Blue Line.'

Tony Blair graduated with a B.A. in Jurisprudence and Second Class honours in 1975

Tony Blair was the Prime Minister of the U.K. from May 1997 to June 2007, and a Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He remains the longest-serving Labour Party Prime Minister.

During his time as PM, Blair made many reforms on issues such as minimum wage, tuition fees for higher education and progress in the Northern Ireland peace process.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee received a bachelor's degree in physics in 1975

Tim Berners-Lee is known as the inventor of the internet. He built his first computer while studying at Oxford out of an old TV set and an M6800 processor.

He then went on to build the first web server in 1990, and founded the World Wide Web Consortium in 1994.

George Stephanopoulos was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and received his master's in theology in the 1980s

Hugh Grant graduated in 1982 with a degree in English

While studying at Oxford, Grant took part in student dramas and considered a career as an art historian.

He is now one of Britain's best known actors after starring in movies such as 'Notting Hill,' 'Music and Lyrics,' 'Love Actually,' 'Two Weeks Notice,' and 'Bridget Jones's Diary,' according to Yahoo! Movies.

David Cameron received his B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics in 1988 with first-class honours

David Cameron, a descendant of King William IV, is the current Prime Minister of the U.K.

He left Oxford in 1988 and immediately secured a research job with the Conservative Party.

He quickly progressed and became special adviser for the Treasury and then Home Office after discovering a talent for preparing ministers for media appearances. He is best known for modernizing Britain's Conservative party, specifically with a more liberal view on homosexuality.

Kate Beckinsale dropped out in 1995 to pursue her career in acting

Rachel Maddow was the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship and received a doctorate in political science in 2001

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