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First established in 1282, the progressive and innovative Hertford College has enjoyed a colorful history and counts many distinguished personages among its alumni, including metaphysical poet John Donne, renowned philosopher Thomas Hobbes, and 18th century satirist Jonathan Swift. Hertford was also among the first Oxford colleges to become coeducational. Three quadrangles comprise the college, which is composed of buildings that span five centuries of construction. The college is located directly across from the Bodleian library, one of the most comprehensive libraries among all the Oxford colleges.
Known for its friendly, relaxed atmosphere, Hertford nevertheless ranks quite highly among Oxford Colleges in its exam results. One whimsical feature of the college is the college cat, "Simpkins," who resides in the College Lodge and is the ninth such Simpkins to do so. According to the Oxford Guide, Simpkins can frequently be observed slipping away from the lodge in order to annoy the nearby Turf Tavern cat, as well as the resident feline at New College.