Adopted in February 1922, the LSE beaver mascot was selected by Edwin Cannan, Professor of Political Economy at the time. The beaver was chosen because of its attributes as a “hard-working and industrious yet sociable animal”, traits that founders of the LSE hoped its students would possess and aspire to.
Yet in his 1922 Oration Day speech, Director at the time Lord Beveridge jokingly remarked:
“One writer at least has been found to assert that this reputation is undeserved; ‘that for five long months in winter the beaver does nothing but sleep and eat and keep warm” and that “summertime for him is just one long holiday… with never a thought of work from morning to night,” and that in fact, he never works at all except for when final examinations are held. Surely a compelling analogy of the average LSE student, no?
Historically, Felix’s place at the LSE has been somewhat contested. In 1983, King’s College London students famously ran off with the LSE beaver mascot, one of the many practical jokes played as part of RAG activities.
The beaver was adopted the same year the school motto was chosen. In 1922, the School Secretary offered a prize of one guinea (equivalent to around £30 in 2017, according to the National Archives) to the best suggestion.
Notably, Abraham Wolf, Professor of Philosophy, took a somewhat fond (albeit humorous) approach, paying homage to our beloved mascot with “Burrow and Build” and “Beaveracious” as suggested school mottos.
Cannan eventually suggested “Rerum cognoscere causas”, translating directly as ‘to know the causes of things’. The full quotation, taken from Book 2 of Virgil’s ‘Georgics’, is “Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas” or “fortunate who was able to know the causes of things”. It is highly likely that this is where our mascot’s affectionate name, Felix, stems from.
In 1925, the SU acquired a wooden beaver carved by Alfred Southwick, a sculptor based in Camden Studios. He was endearingly named ‘Felix Q’ and enrolled as an honorary LSE student. It is unknown where he has since disappeared to.
Although a seemingly elusive character on campus, Felix has not been forgotten by the student body. A number of student-run organisations still make heavy use of our mascot today, including, of course, this very publication (though the retention of its name has been challenged this year!). With this paper touting our mascot and a number of AU sports kits continuing to feature our favourite furry friend, it seems that Felix is safe for now.