Guy Griffith

Earlier today I wrote about A Guide to the Classics: or How to Pick the Derby Winner (1936). My post focused on one of the authors of the book, Michael Oakeshott.

The co-author was a colleague of Michael’s at Cambridge, Guy Thomson Griffith (1908-1975).

I thought I ought to redress the balance to find out more about Guy.

The most information I could find about him is an obituary (1986) written in the Proceedings of the British Academy. Guy’s photograph comes from there too.

Guy was a  Classics scholar at Gonville and Caius College from 1926. He was awarded a first class degree with distinction in Ancient history  which was essential to win a University studentship and undertake research. He became a research fellow in 1931. His doctoral research was on The Greek Soldier of Fortune. In 1935, he published The Mercenaries of the Hellenic World.

Nicholas Hammond‘s obituary has this information:

One remembers life in a Cambridge college in the mid-1930s as very enjoyable and relatively leisurely. During the racing season Griffith devoted two hours a day to the study of form and breeding, and he and his closest friend in caius, Michael oakesott, then a bachelor Fellow, went together to the races often at Newmarket and once at Epsom for the Derby and at Ascot. In 1936 they published a book which was remarkable both for its expert knowledge and for its humour and elegance: A Guide to the Classics – or how to pick the Derby winner. … a new edition was published in 1947 with the title A New Guide to the Derby: how to pick the winner. ‘All the learning was Guy’s’, wrote Oakeshott, and learning was the right word, for it was based on fundamental research, pursued over more than a decade.

Nicholas notes that Guy was successful in his horse betting career:

His winnings on the turf, we understood, enabled him to indulge his taste in vintage cars, as in vintage claret.

Guy became a University lecturer in 1937. During the War he was an air traffic controller in the RAF Volunteer reserve.

At the end of the war he returned to the University and was involved in Classics teaching and research for the next four decades.

He died in Papworth Hospital on 10 September 1985.

Photo Credit

Guy Griffith (Proceedings of the British Academy)

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