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Elected: Major scholarship, St John's College, Cambridge


Applying for a scholarship to St John's College, Cambridge
Frederic Raphael Writer
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So, in December, early December of 1949 I went up to Cambridge. It was snowing and I had to stay in St John's College, but the exams were taken in Emmanuel. I used to walk in the snow to Emmanuel and there were 600 candidates for, in Charter... 600 candidates for in St John's, two Major Classical scholarships. I mean, Classics is what people did in those days if they were clever – I mean, unless they were very clever mathematicians. But, I mean, generally that was the cursus honorum. So, I went in to the exams in Emmanuel, which actually was, had a Master in those days who like the headmaster of Winchester and St Paul's and other places, didn't approve of Jews. And in Emmanuel's case, since he was the Master, he actually could arrange for no Jews whatever to be in Emmanuel. So, that's what Emmanuel meant apparently.

But it wasn't true of many Cambridge colleges, I don't think. My list of colleges were: St John's... John's, Queens', Christ, Emmanuel, Sidney Sussex – and John's came top of the choices. So I did my, I did the papers, and I was pretty good. I was...

[Q] Why not Trinity or King's?

Well, Gibson distributed his best 'horses' – he was a keen horseracing man – to various colleges, so they wouldn't compete against each other. So, it was quite arbitrary where you went. I think he was not entirely without thought in sending me to John's, because for reasons that I'll disclose it was actually a very good choice for me.

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: Cambridge University, Emmanuel College

Duration: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2014

Date story went live: 13 August 2014