Christopher Thomas Tower (1915-1998), came from a diplomatic family and was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford (reading history from 1934-1937). At Eton he won numerous school prizes for poetry, English literature and allied subjects, and was a founder and first secretary of the Eton College Archaeological Society. These interests first took him to the Middle East where he studied Arabic and Persian. After holding a number of appointments in that area (during WWII he fought in the Western Desert with the Coldstream Guards and attained the rank of Captain) he retired from official life in order to be able to devote more time to his writing, later settling in Athens. A collection of the Tower family portraits is on view at the Ashridge Business School.
He wrote nine illustrated books of poetry, mainly of Persian and Arab legends – a first volume of verse in 1975 (Firuz of Isfahan published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson as were his subsequent titles); A Distant Fluting (1977); Oultre Jourdain (1980); Victoria the Good (1982); Arcesilayus at Tocra (1992).
He left a legacy of £5m to be used, by Christ Church, to endow two teaching posts: a Poetry Studentship and a tutorial fellowship, with an associated University Lecturership plus a Junior Research Fellowship in Greek mythology. The benefaction also funded the Christopher Tower Poetry Prize, an annual competition open to sixth-formers. This is the oration, delivered in 2005.
Christopher Tower’s monument is at All Saints Churchyard, Minstead, Hampshire, England.