Meet Dr. Ed Clarke – Oxford

Lady Margaret Hall, Summerfuel OxfordEach Summerfuel program has, at its core, a team of accomplished, passionate faculty.  Our faculty work collaboratively with our residence staff to create a memorable, meaningful summer experience for all of our students.  In Oxford, the Summerfuel faculty includes Oxford University professors, practicing professionals and artists.  Most faculty return annually.  Read on to learn about a student favorite, Dr. Clarke, whose Shakespeare courses are amongst the most popular each summer.


12th Year with Summerfuel. PhD & BA in English Literature; Trinity College, Dublin & St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. Tutor at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. Publications:The Later Affluence of W.B. Yeats and Wallace Stevens; The Vagabond Spirit of Poetry.

Hobbies and Interests

I love rambling around Oxford, cooking different cuisines, and exploring ecclesiastical medieval architecture.

Favorite Place in Oxford

Port Meadow – the common grazing land to the north of town and bordered by the Thames to the west.

Oxford’s ‘Must See’

The early 16th century spire of St. Mary’s – you must climb the tower to check out its ball-flower decoration.

Currently Reading

Kathleen Raine’s Autobiography

Currently Listening To

Dylan’s World Gone Wrong

Words of Wisdom

“Bear free and patient thoughts.”

What Makes Summerfuel Oxford Special?

Summerfuel Oxford High Tea

1. Access

Summerfuel Oxford has taken students into the heart of Oxford University since 1984. Our aim is give students as authentic an Oxford experience as possible. All students live and study at Lady Margaret Hall College. Unlike U.S. universities Oxford is divided into 40 residential colleges and Lady Margaret Hall or LMH, has a privileged position next to the River Cherwell and is set in beautiful grounds. It has been our home since 1988.

At Summerfuel Oxford you will truly live as an Oxford undergraduate and excel inside and outside the classroom.

2. Teaching / Not School

A key difference with our Oxford program is the style of teaching. Our students benefit from very small group sessions. At Oxford, these are called tutorials. Our classes are supportive, personalized and dynamic environments that afford our students a great level of individual attention. Many seminars such as Art & Architecture are spent in the city of Oxford visiting special points of interest or your writing teacher might take you for lunch at the very place J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the Lord of The Rings

“The supervision and tutorial system ensures that students have contact with leading Oxford academics,” says Paul Saville, Director of Summerfuel Oxford since 1984. “This hands-on method of learning is at the heart of what makes the summer so special.

3. Our Students

Our students come from over 23 different U.S. states and 17 different countries. They all come together to form a summer community of learning and fun. Our students represent all interests, tastes and backgrounds. They share a common goal and that is to get a true taste of Oxford University life and gain an insight into the history and traditions of the world’s most celebrated university.

4. All work and no play….

When seminars are out we have an entire activity and extracurricular schedule planned. Students can pick and choose from a variety of different options from attending one of our guest lectures at the seminar series to sports, visits, Shakespeare performances, Movie Nights etc. or simply enjoying the city of Oxford and the college with your new friends. In addition we travel to London, Blenheim and beyond on the weekends.

5. Traditions

Idiosyncratic language and traditions are everywhere. The College is your summer residence and the Junior Common Room (JCR) is where you enjoy many group events. Each day “Scouts” will clean and tidy your room and change your linens on a weekly basis. In the afternoon you might wish to enjoy the “sunken garden” or rent a punt and try your hand at “punting.”

You will enter and leave the college through the Lodge and be assisted by LMH “porters” on a daily basis. Your seminars might take place in the LMH “coaching room” or even the Talbot “bar”.

5. History, alumni and excellence

Teaching at Oxford, dates back to 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Our program dates back to 1984, which makes it the oldest program for high school students in Oxford.

We have hosted over 6,000 students on our Oxford programs over the years. Our alumni have gone on to top universities in the U.S. and abroad and many have returned to Oxford as undergraduates and graduate students.

Au revoir!

All our Paris Extension students are on their way back home now.  We had a great time showing them around the City of Lights for the last few days — some highlights are shown below: a ride on the petit train de Montmartre, the group in Montmartre by Sacre Coeur, a visit to the Pantheon, exploring the Shakespeare & Company bookstore, and a special visit from an Oxford pal!  We hope everyone had an amazing summer in Oxford & Paris!


Perfect Days in Paris

Time is flying by here in Paris with the extension group! We’ve had some packed days seeing some of the best sights Paris has to offer, and we’re not done yet!  So far we’ve cruised down to Seine, climbed the Eiffel Tower & Arc de Triomphe, explored the famous Louvre and Musee d’Orsay, and shopped ’til we dropped on the Champs Elysees.  A few adventurous eaters even tried escargots!  We’re all looking forward to our last full sightseeing day in Paris tomorrow.

Writing Contest Winner – Away from Home

This summer we hosted a writing contest on the theme “Away from Home.”  There were many submissions, from reflections on what home really means, to discussion of the quirks of Britain compared to their own homes.

After reading all the submissions, the committee chose the following poem as the winner of the 2016 competition.  We hope you enjoy this submission from Maggie S.

Away from Home

I’m home

I don’t want to leave

my friends and family

but I’m excited to see

a foreign place

my home will feel like

a thousand miles away

I’m sad to go

away from my mom and dad.

no longer

I’m confident and


I can do it but

I don’t know if

where I’m going will ever completely feel like home

and don’t try to tell me

time flies



dragging on and on

the goodbyes are

a month away.

I can’t believe it has been

the best month of my life.


Now read from bottom to top

Going Home

Today was an emotional day as all the students made their way back to their friends and families. As both escorted flights touched down in their respective destinations, students have been sharing Snapchats and Instagram posts to remind themselves of their fantastic summer abroad.

Meanwhile, the journey continues for our intrepid Parisian explorers, who took a river cruise on the Seine and had a group dinner together. Stay tuned for more updates from Paris!

Final Dinner – Jazz by Candlelight

Last night, the students were treated to a formal dinner in the LMH dining hall. Traditionally, Oxford students wear formal dress and gowns to these meals, and our students looked just as sharp in their shirts and ties and dresses! Every student got a group photo for their friends to sign and write notes on while a jazz band played some of their greatest standards, led by John Rolfe (our Oxford Art & Architecture teacher). We all enjoyed a three-course meal by candlelight and took plenty of pictures together before heading to view the students’ final projects in photography, art, and more.

After that, it was time to celebrate our summer together by viewing some of the talent that is so abundant in this group! Preston played the piano, Artur orated, Madison made us move to the sound of her voice, and everyone took part in some choice group karaoke. We also recognized the students’ academic achievements, for students attending all three seminars and students especially chosen by their teachers. There were many tears at the end of the night, but we will remember it for a long time to come!

Last Week Roundup

As the final day approaches and we start to feel sentimental, we thought we’d take a look at some of the activities of the last week.

After an exciting programme of classes and activities, students chilled out on Friday night. Pyjamas, face-masks, nail painting and a movie were the order of the evening. By the end of the night we were all fresh-faced and ready for the final week.

Monday saw the highly-anticipated Staff-Student Soccer Championship. It was a close call, but not as close as the staff would’ve liked! Despite the sweltering heat, the student team put in a great performance and emerged victorious.

The sun continued to shine on Wednesday for the annual rocket launch. Summerfuel’s best and brightest assembled to build and launch their own rockets. Despite some challenging engineering, every one went off without a hitch.

Meanwhile, high inside the towers of Toynbee, students raced against the clock to solve the puzzles of the Escape Room. Of ten teams who tried it, four beat the 45 minute time limit, with the fastest team taking just over 15 minutes to reach the goal!

Now, on to the excitement of the final dinner and a showcase of the best talent Summerfuel has on offer. Stay tuned!