Ronald Arbuthnott Knox was born in 1888, the youngest of a family of four sons and two daughters. He was descended from Anglican bishops through his mother as well as through his father, who himself would become bishop of Manchester in 1903. His mother died when he was four years old, and between the ages of five and eight, Knox spent most of his time in a country rectory under the care of his father’s mother, brother, and sisters, who impressed him with their strict Protestant piety. After a private school education during which his precociousness manifested itself in his skill in composing verses in English, Latin, and Greek, he won a scholarship to Eton College. There he participated in the catholicizing movement within the Church of England. At the age of seventeen, to be able to serve God without impediment, he vowed himself to celibacy. Yet he was not a dour, repressed youth; rather, his high spirits made him attractive to his fellows. This same playful spirit can be seen in his writings for the Eton College Chronicle.
In 1906, after a distinguished career at Eton, Knox went to Balliol College, Oxford University, where he was a brilliant student, winning several scholarships and prizes and acquiring the reputation of a nimble-witted debater and writer. In 1910 he was graduated with a first in “Greats” (studies in the Greek and Latin classics) and was elected a Fellow of Trinity College. Following his ordination as a priest in the Church of...
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