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Heavy morals stopped us being rich

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Running away from Roedean
Katharine Whitehorn Writer
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I wanted to go to boarding school because I’d read, you know, girls boarding school books. And they sent me... were going to send me, anyway, to a very good school called Downe House in... which was in Berkshire. And I went there for a term and a bit but it was by that time the war was on. My father’s school was in Cumberland, and they sent home all the girls whose parents were in the North in case they got separated by the invasion.

And my parents couldn’t think of any school anywhere near that was academically any good, and unlike too many parents in those days, it never occurred to them to give me a less good education than my brother. So they sent me to Roedean which was evacuated to Keswick. And there I was deeply miserable for two years, and finally got a... but they evacuated into a hotel. So there was a huge relief map of the neighbourhood on which I could plot the 30 miles or so across which I did in the end mount my bicycle and ride home.

And I realised I could never have lived down Roedean on Fleet Street, if I hadn’t run away from it, but people tend to keep starting with it, as you did, so that I wish in a way it was expunged from the entire record. Because after that, I went to school in Glasgow, to a day school, and really I’ve been perfectly happy ever since. 

A distinguished journalist and renowned author, Katharine Whitehorn 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, she is recognised as someone who has transformed 20th century women's journalism. She takes a keen interest in social welfare issues, is 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: Downe House school, Berkshire, Cumberland, Roedean, Keswick, Fleet Street, Glasgow

Duration: 1 minute, 29 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2010

Date story went live: 16 February 2011