Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Granny Gow, aka Wog
He applied four times for permanent posts in Cambridge, but was each time unsuccessful; it was feared that he would alarm and discourage his pupils, particularly the weaker sort. Indeed Gow's appearance was formidable, an uncompromisingly Scottish kind of countenance being set off by bushy eyebrows and side-whiskers, and anything like conceit or pretentiousness on the part of a pupil might provoke a wounding sarcasm. In 1914 he became a master at Eton College, where he remained during the First World War, a heart murmur having disqualified him for military service. Some pupils were indeed alienated by his dryness and his caustic wit; his frequent comment on an exercise shown up to him was 'Oh, death, boy!', and his highest expression of praise was 'Not wholly bad!' But some of the boys appreciated his solid scholarship and the great pains he took to help them, and the nickname Granny Gow was bestowed upon him not without affection.Some of Gow's pupils at Eton (including Eric Blair, later to adopt the pseudonym George Orwell) apparently also called him "Wog." This crude poem by Blair pokes fun at Gow's facial hair, his habit of sitting down carefully, and his interest in art:
Then up waddled Wog and he squeaked in Greek:The Complete Works of George Orwell, Vol. 10: A Kind of Compulsion, 1903-1936 (London: Secker & Warburg, 1998), p. 52.
'I’ve grown another hair on my cheek.'
Crace replied in Latin with his toadlike smile:
'And I hope you’ve grown a lovely new pile.
With a loud deep fart from the bottom of my heart!
How d’you like Venetian art?'
Before and during his tenure at Eton, Gow's publications included:
- "On the Use of Masks in Roman Comedy," Journal of Roman Studies 2 (1912) 65-77
- "On the Meaning of the Word ΘΥΜΕΛΗ," Journal of Hellenic Studies 32 (1912) 213-238
- "The Cup in the First Idyll of Theocritus," Journal of Hellenic Studies 33 (1913) 207-222
- "Notes on the Agamemnon," Classical Quarterly 8.1 (January 1914) 1-6
- "The Ancient Plough," Journal of Hellenic Studies 34 (1914) 249-275
- Review of The Acharnians of Aristophanes by Richard Thomas Elliott, Classical Review 29.7 (November 1915) 212-214
- "On Two Passages of the Orestes," Classical Quarterly 10.2 (April 1916) 80-82
- "Miscellaneous Notes on the Works and Days," Classical Quarterly 11.3 (July 1917) 113-118
- "Hesiod, Works and Days. An Addendum," Classical Quarterly 11.4 (October 1917) 211
- "On Three Passages of Theocritus," Classical Quarterly 13.1 (January 1919) 20-23
- Review of Greek and Roman Portraits in English Country Houses by Frederik Poulsen, tr. G. C. Richards, Classical Review 38.5-6 (August-September 1924) 140
- Review of Greek and Roman Sculpture in American Collections by George H. Chase, Classical Review 38.7-8 (November-December 1924) 209
- Review of Meisterwerke Griechischer Zeichnung und Malerei by E. Pfuhl, Classical Review 39.1-2 (February-March 1925) 44-45
I haven't seen F.H. Sandbach, "Andrew Sydenham Farrar Gow, 1886–1978," Proceedings of the British Academy 64 (1978) 427–441
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.