'Out of the Prisoning Tower'

 

 

'OUT OF THE PRISONING TOWER'

 

 

 

First printed in The Spectator, 22 August 1958: one of a series under the heading 'John Bull's Schooldays', which were subsequently collected and published as John Bull's Schooldays, edited by Brian Inglis (Hutchinson, 1961).

 

The Times Literary Supplement reprinted HW's essay on 7 May 1966, and included a photograph of HW while at Colfe's Grammar School.

 

The essay is currently available to read in Indian Summer Notebook, ed. John Gregory (HWS, 2001; e-book 2013).

 

This single article entry marks what was (and still is) an important statement by HW about his own school days. At the time, of course, it revealed important autobiographical information previously only found hidden away among his fictional writings. Although today the background is well known, it is still an important statement, showing how HW himself perceived his years at Colfe's Grammar School under the headship of F. W. Lucas, whom he portrays with a mixture of affection and exasperation. HW writes:

 

I remember him with affection, as I remember most of the faces of my time at the school, including the hundred or so of my generation who were killed in the 1914-18 war.

 

At the time of writing this HW was coming towards the end of the 'war volumes' of his A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight.

 

Fictional, but very faithful, accounts of HW's schooldays can be found in Dandelion Days (the second volume of The Flax of Dream), and Young Phillip Maddison (vol. 3 of A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight).

 

 

prisoning spectator

 

 

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John Bull's Schooldays: the dustwrapper, endpapers and front cover of the book itself were designed by the eminent illustrator and cartoonist Quentin Blake in his own inimitable style:

 

 

prisoning cover

 

 

The front and back flaps:

 

 

prisoning blurb1           prisoning blurb2

 

 

The book's front cover:

 

 

prisoning front

 

 

Front and back endpapers:

 

 

prisoning endpaper1

 

prisoning endpaper2

 

 

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The Times Literary Supplement:

 

 

prisoning tls1

 

 

With the essay the TLS published this photograph of HW at Colfe's (as a member of the school's Harriers), the first time that it had been seen by the general public:

 

 

prisoning tls2

 

 

 

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