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Lindsay Johns, BA French and Italian

Lincoln College, University of Oxford, 1994 – 1998
Writer and broadcaster

"I look back on my time at Lincoln College, University of Oxford, as one of the happiest, and most intellectually stimulating periods of my life. I resolved to take full advantage of the gargantuan number of opportunities available to me, such as nurturing a nascent love of theatre-going and, being a voracious bibliophile, frequenting second-hand bookshops - a habit I still have to this day. I also made some of my closest friends there.

In addition to inspiring my passion for books, learning and classical antiquity, an Oxford humanities education indelibly shaped my philosophical world view and gave me the confidence to communicate my ideas to a wider audience.

I was fortunate in having inspirational tutors, renowned for their formidable erudition, strong pedagogic rapport and genuine affability. I spent a life-changing year abroad in Martinique in the French West Indies, teaching English. Much of my writing and broadcasting, as well as my friendships, have been influenced by my time there and the remarkable literature, culture and people of that island. My writing and broadcasting are motivated by a desire to help build a more equitable society, and be a voice for the hitherto voiceless and the marginalised.

My advice for students considering an application to Oxford is to study the subject that you are genuinely passionate about and which intellectually excites you. Irrespective of your racial or social background, dare to dream big, find out what you love doing and what you would willingly do for free, then just work out how to get paid for it.

At Oxford I learnt the value of knowing my own mind, how to be my own man and that it’s OK to be different."


Lindsay Johns has written for many publications, including the Evening Standard, The Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, The TLS, Prospect and The Oldie. He used to present on BBC 2’s The Culture Show, and now writes and presents arts documentaries for BBC radio and TV. He is currently a (non-residential) Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University.