Sleep

I go to sleep quickly. I need a minimum of six hours and I like to be in bed by 11pm. I often wake up in the night, so I’ll go downstairs to get a book – anything from Zadie Smith to John le Carré – to read. I’m awake when the alarm goes off at 6.25am. My wife is an artist, so she has a different routine; in the morning, we converse amicably, but briefly!

Eat

I’m a creature of habit; I can’t leave the house without a cup of tea in my system. Eating is a social aspect of my job as Bodley’s librarian and fellow of Balliol college at the University of Oxford; I go to the canteen once a week at 12.45pm for a hot meal or a salad. Otherwise, it’s a generic sandwich. I’m not a snacker; my next meal will be at 7pm. My wife is a great improviser – she’ll pick three ingredients from the fridge and know what to make. I’ll cook a roast or risotto from Ottolenghi or Nigella at the weekend. I like shopping for food. One of our joys in life is going into the Oxford Covered Market on a Saturday morning.

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Work

I get to my office – in a beautiful 18th-century building – for 7.45am. Between 8.30am and 6pm, I go from one meeting to the next, so without that 45 minutes first thing I wouldn’t be able to function. I’m the 25th person to hold the position of Bodley’s librarian and I feel a huge responsibility. I don’t want to screw it up. That’s on my mind daily.

Family

We have two daughters, aged 19 and 22. Our youngest is back with us for the summer from university. As I get older, she reconnects me to a generational perspective on life. She has well-thought-out views and we have lots of debates; it’s quite a jolly household. My mum is still very much with us – she’s 89 – and lives on the coast in Kent. We visit her often. My wife and I grew up by the sea, so it’s nice to go back.

Fun

We are lucky to live close to Port Meadow, so we walk a lot of weekends. We often go into London to see an exhibition at the Tate or the Royal Academy. I have a private research library at home, where I try to write. I enjoy reading and thinking about the past. Thinking time is really precious

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Tolkien: Maker Of Middle-Earth is at the Weston Library, Oxford, until 28 October. bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

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