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Importance of modesty


First taste of school
Frederic Raphael Writer
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So I went to... down to Sussex and when war was declared my parents decided I should go away to school in order to be out of London in what was expected to be the bombing raids which would do great damage. And suddenly, from being a pampered mother's boy of... at that time I was just eight, since my birthday's in August, I was told I was going to go away to school, which I did not take at all well. I don't take many things well I'm bound to say except good news. So suddenly I was wrenched more or less literally from my mother's arms and delivered to Copthorne School which was actually near East Grinstead. It was a good school. The headmaster was a... was a good man, a good scholar, Latin and Greek, I mean. The teachers were largely amiable and able. As far as I know, they were in no way interested in small boys. I was never aware of any breath of scandal, and I wouldn't have known if there had been because I just didn't know about those things. I didn't know about anything below the waist, so to speak. But I was diligent, so I did well at school. I lost my American accent with some speed. I acted in plays. And then after a little while when we heard the bombing and the noise of guns from France as we did in May 1940, we removed from Sussex which was, of course, right on the line between where the bombers would start and where they would end over London, and the school was removed through the wisdom of the headmaster, whose name was E Skete Workman, to North Devon where he had had the wit to reserve, as it were, a small hotel which in the wartime, of course, was not going to get many guests. And so the school removed to Lee Bay in North Devon. And there I spent the next, whatever it was years, four... four or five years, learning Latin and Greek mostly and maths and a bit of French, but Latin and Greek was the heart of it. It might as well have been Chinese or horticulture or anything else. I was a diligent little boy, eager to... eager to come top and... and competent to do so pretty much. I also wrote a... remember writing an adaptation while I was there of Anthony Hope's Rupert of Hentzau.

Born in America in 1931, Frederic Raphael is a writer who moved to England as a boy. He was educated at Charterhouse School and was a Major Scholar in Classics at St John's College, Cambridge. His articles and book reviews appear in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times and The Sunday Times. He has published more than twenty novels, the best-known being the semi-autobiographical The Glittering Prizes (1976). In 1965 Raphael won an Oscar for the screenplay for the movie Darling, and two years later received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Two for the Road. In 1999, he published Eyes Wide Open, a memoir of his collaboration with the director Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick's final movie. Raphael lives in France and England and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1964.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Copthorne Preparatory School, North Devon, Anthony Hope

Duration: 2 minutes, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2014

Date story went live: 13 August 2014