Hi All - I'm hoping someone here has a copy of this essay from Oxford Magazine for 29 May 1930, and can help me resolve an apparent discrepancy I'm finding.


In "The Oxford English School" Tolkien proposed improvements to the "lit" vs. "lang" divide in the Oxford syllabus. According to Scull & Hammond's Reader's Guide (p. 953 of the 2017 edition), Tolkien proposed to call the language/philology scheme (his own specialty) "A", and the literature scheme "B".

But everywhere else the A/B curriculum split is mentioned, the letters are the other way around. This is more significant than it may seem, because the A/B divide was the basis for a personal symbolism Tolkien held for many years equating "lit" or A with the oak tree (from OE ác) and his own "lang" or B with the birch (from OE beorc). Christopher Tolkien's notes on the subject in The Return of the Shadow have the letters this way around, as does commentary by Tom Shippey in The Road to Middle-earth, and poems from Songs for the Philologists playing on the oak/birch symbolism which Shippey reproduces in his appendix. Shippey, in fact, has based his entire allegorical reading of Smith of Wootton Major on the idea that A was literature and B was Tolkien's preferred language track.

Does anyone have the original essay, and can confirm which was which in 1930 when he wrote it? Thanks!