Education


The History Boys

Many years ago, the head of the history department at my school was lecturing the pre-university class. Suddenly the door of the classroom burst open and the junior history master rushed in.

"You bastard!" he screamed. "You've been sleeping with my wife."

Within moments there was chaos. Blackboard dusters - the old wooden-backed ones - were flying. The two men were wrestling on the floor.

And then, suddenly, it stopped. The two men stood up, turned to the twenty-two very frightened boys, and told them: "Write down what happened." Unsurprisingly, they got twenty-two conflicting accounts.

"Now," said the head of the department, "what do you make of your primary sources?"

It is thanks to this lesson that I know that absolute historical truth does not exist, except in the mind of God - and of course, in the imagination of the historical novelist!

 

Did You Know?
In 1890, nine-year-old Daisy Ashford wrote a novel and never showed it to the world. It was only after her mother’s death some twenty-eight years later, when she was sorting through old papers with her sisters, that she found the manuscript in a drawer. After the manuscript found its way to publishers, the book – The Young Visiters – came out in 1919, (yes, that is how the title was spelled) to great acclaim. After the book went into several editions, Daisy bought a farm with her earnings, commenting, “I like fresh air and royalty cheques”.