Page 226. " Ah, I forgot that you were going into a convent. Anglican, I hope? "

Ever since the English Reformation of the 16th Century, British Protestants have harboured a suspicion of Catholicism. Even today, the Pope's overtures towards the more conservative clergy in the Church of England have raised hackles across the country.


The ascension to the throne of Elizabeth I (1533-1603), considered “The Child of the Reformation,” seemed to confirm England as a Protestant country. But throughout her reign, Elizabeth faced Catholic conspiracies and attacks from within and outside her kingdom. The focus of political opposition to Elizabeth was her Catholic cousin, Mary I of Scotland (1542-1587), who was imprisoned and ultimately executed on Elizabeth's orders.


The old religion of Catholicism came to be seen as such a threat to the security of the realm that the return of Catholics to the throne in the person of Charles I (1600-1649) and his son James II (1633-1701) led to both kings being forcibly removed -- the former by civil war and the latter by foreign invasion. After James II was deposed in favour of his Protestant daughter Mary II (1662-1694) and her Dutch husband William III (1650-1702), it was written into law that the British monarch could not be Catholic or marry a Catholic. As late as the twentieth century, Catholics were barred from various sectors of British life, including some of the best schools. Technically, the Prime Minister of Great Britain may not be a Roman Catholic; Tony Blair converted to Catholicism only on leaving office.

Page 226. " I saw much of dear old Dr. Pusey. "
Pusey House in Oxford
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePusey House in Oxford - Credit: Stephen Parkinson

Edward Bouverie Pusey(1800-1882), was Regius Professor of Hebrew at Christ Church. He was one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, which saw High Church Anglicans convert to Anglo-Catholicism.


Pusey House is an Oxford religious institution and learning centre rooted in Anglo-Catholicism.

Page 226. " Yes. I want to be out of the world. I want to do no more harm. "

Traditionally, disgraced women would sometimes retreat to a convent. King Arthur’s queen, Guinevere, is said to have done so after her adulterous affair with Lancelot.

Page 235. " “See if it is possible to go direct from here to Cambridge,” said Zuleika "




The University of Cambridge is slightly younger than the University of Oxford. Early documentation suggests that it was founded by scholars from Oxford around 1209. The two universities have a long-standing rivalry, but their similarities and equal prestige have led to the two universities being referred to jointly as Oxbridge.


It is a running joke that there is no convenient direct mode of public transit between Oxford and Cambridge.