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Author Ian McEwan says Woolverstone Hall School, near Ipswich, was the making of him

PUBLISHED: 16:31 16 September 2016

Woolverstone Hall

Woolverstone Hall

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His novels have sold in their millions, received prestigious awards and Oscar-winning film adaptations.

Author Ian McEwanAuthor Ian McEwan

And according to a recent interview, Ian McEwan owes much of his success to his time at a “rather extraordinary” state grammar boarding school in Suffolk.

Speaking to the Times Saturday Review, McEwan said Woolverstone Hall School, near Ipswich, was the making of him. He described it as “a sort of experiment by London County Council, set in the grounds of what looked like a magnificent private school on the banks of the River Orwell”.

McEwan, 68, whose novels include the Man Booker Prize-winning Amsterdam, Enduring Love and Atonement - adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring James McAvoy and Kiera Knightley - said he spent his earlier childhood as an “army brat” in Singapore, Germany and north Africa.

He said Woolverstone Hall was filled with “super-bright, working-class kids” as well as the children of army servicemen and those from bohemian London families.

“It was classless, it was cocky, confident, unimpressed and we slaughtered all the surrounding private schools at rugby,” he said.

It also believed in “the old now discredited notion that what you did to working-class kids was to make them into middle-class kids,” he added.

“We were so well-educated, we knew the English canon, we had read our Chaucer.

“We were groomed in the practical criticism of the IA Richards school; we knew our verse, and we showed off like anything.”

Woolverstone Hall was obtained by London County Council in the 1950s to create a secondary grammar school for boys from London. It became a comprehensive in 1977 and closed in 1990.

Ipswich High School has been based there since 1992.

McEwan’s new book Nutshell is out now.


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