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Running away from Roedean


I never made any serious friends until I was about 15
Katharine Whitehorn Writer
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Well I grew up in a school more or less because my father was a master at Mill Hill. And a house master from the time that I could remember. So I was never in what you might describe as a normal house with a normal kitchen. And then during the war his school was evacuated to Cumberland, on to another school. Which was perhaps slightly less like a school but not much more like home. But I do remember that I went to a day school in London to begin with, half way down a steep hill.

I either walked with terrifying dogs or my mother drove me down in our old car, which I don’t know which was the more frightening thing really. But it did mean that I grew up without sort of natural neighbour children. And one of the reasons that I hated school so much, I think, was that I didn’t really make friends easily at all. But I suppose I never made any friends... proper, serious friends, until I was about 15.

And now having girl grandchildren I know how crucially girl friendships matter to little girls. I can see why I wasn’t particularly happy.

A distinguished journalist and renowned author, Katharine Whitehorn (1928-2021) has written for The Spectator and Picture Post. She was the first woman to have her own column in the Observer and was their star columnist for the best part of 40 years. Educated at Newnham College, Cambridge, is recognised as someone who has transformed 20th century women's journalism. She took a keen interest in social welfare issues, was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and was the first woman rector of the University of St Andrews.

Listeners: Bob Bee

Bob Bee is a Scottish documentary maker who has made many films on the Arts and Science for ITV, BBC and Channel Four.

Tags: Mill Hill School, Cumberland, evacuation

Duration: 1 minute, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2010

Date story went live: 16 February 2011