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Owen: The Papers of Gwilym Ellis Lane Owen (1922-1982), scholar of classical philosophy

Reference Code: GBR/3437/OWEN

Scope and Contents

The papers range in date and content from undergraduate notes from the 1940s to complete drafts of unpublished manuscripts and working papers presented at seminars, up to Owen's death in 1982. Correspondence is minimal for the papers that originate from Owen's rooms at King's College, Cambridge.
However, the papers that originate as a donation from Owen's widow Sally, mainly consist of correspondence to Owen.


  • Creation: 1940-1982


Biographical / Historical

G. E. L. Owen matriculated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford in 1940 and concluded his BA there in 1948, after a 5 year period of war service in the Pacific arena. He completed a BPhil in 1950 at Oxford under the supervision of Gilbert Ryle. After post-doctoral research at Durham University, he returned to Oxford to teach and became Professor of Ancient Philosophy in 1963. In 1966 he went to Harvard as professor to steer a new PhD programme in Classical Philosophy. In 1973 Owen was appointed the Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of King's College, Cambridge. Owen's work focussed upon the analysis of pre-Socratic philosophy, Aristotle and Plato, in particular logic, metaphysics and the philosophy of language. His work inspired and profoundly influenced the post-war philosophical study of ancient philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century.


18 archive box(es) : paper, microfilms

Language of Materials


Greek, Ancient (to 1453)


Lyn Bailey, Classics Faculty Librarian, arranged and catalogued these papers, assigning the three series the letters 'E', (Early Working Notes) 'MSS" (Unpublished Manuscripts) and 'WK" (Early Versions of Working Papers). Upon transfer to the Faculty Archives in 2018, these references were replaced with a numerical sequence in keeping with other collections in the repository.

Custodial History

These papers were assigned to the Faculty of Classics upon Owen's death in July 1982, when his rooms at King's College, Cambridge, had to be cleared promptly by Professor Malcolm Schofield in order to prepare the suite of rooms for its next occupant in the new academic year of September 1982. Correspondence is minimal.

Sophia M. Asbell catalogued the correspondence, Series GBR/3437/OWEN/4, between September 2023 to [ongoing].
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Cambridge: Faculty of Classics Archives Repository

Faculty of Classics
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge CB3 9DA United Kingdom
+441223 335193