Rachel Trickett

Rachel Trickett (20 December 1923 – 24 June 1999) was an English novelist, non‑fiction writer, literary scholar, and a prominent British academic; she served as Principal of St Hugh’s College, Oxford for nearly twenty years, between 1973 and 1991.

Rachel Trickett
Born 20 December 1923
Died 24 June 1999 (aged 75)
Oxford, England
Nationality United Kingdom
Occupation academic
Known for non-fiction writer


Trickett was educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She became a lecturer in English at the University of Hull in 1946 and in 1954 she returned to Oxford as a fellow and tutor at St Hugh’s College.

Principal of St. Hugh's College

As Principal of St. Hugh's College, Trickett often showed a side of gaeity: on her instruction, the chapel at the college was redecorated in 18th-century colours. Her friend Laurence Whistler designed the college's beautiful gilded wrought iron Swan gates, which can now be found by the Principal's house on Canterbury Road.[1]

Other work

Trickett was the author of the novel The Return Home (London, Constable & Co., 1952), and of The Course of Love (London, Constable & Co., 1954). Her The Honest Muse: A Study in Augustan Verse was published by Clarendon Press, Oxford, in 1967.

It is said that ‘she had a wicked eye for the conceit of academics, their insularity and devious manipulations’,[2] an attitude which made her a soul‑mate of Erich Heller.

Personal life

After she had retired as Principal of St Hugh's College, Rachel Trickett continued to share rooms with literature don Michael Gearin-Tosh. In 1994, five years before her eventual death, her friend was diagnosed with a severe cancer of the bone, myeloma.

She gave him her active support in finding the most suitable form of treatment. This became the dominant activity of her retirement as she agonised with him over the options and debated with Gearin-Tosh and his friends about the most suitable course of action. In the event, Michael Gearin-Tosh's choice of therapy was based on a rejection of conventional therapies and a reliance on acupuncture, meditation and dietary control.

The Rachel Trickett Building at St. Hugh's College is named after her.


  • Gearin-Tosh, Michael (2002) Living Proof: a medical mutiny. ISBN 0-7432-0677-0


  1. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/news/1999/jul/08/guardianobituaries2 Obituary for Rachel Trickett - Forthright Oxford principal and novelist of subtlety and wit
  2. ^ Michael Gearin-Tosh, ‘Rachel Trickett’, The Independent (London), June 30, 1999.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Kathleen Kenyon
Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford
1973 to 1991
Succeeded by
Derek Wood

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