Banbury Grammar School

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-20-55-46Banbury Grammar School (now defunct) in Ruskin Road just outside the Oxfordshire market town. Anthony Burgess was an assistant master here between 1950 and 1954. It was during these years that he wrote his version of the ring cycle, The Worm and the Ring, which was not published until 1960 (and pulped after the school secretary complained of being libelled). The book displayed is the revised (1970) edition.

Extracts from the novel:

In the suburb, lashed by the March shower, the new school stood, waiting to be unwrapped. Its yellow-white freestone lent new dignity to the sandy windy hill of red houses like boxes, each with its regulation square lawn and television aerial. It was like a recently created title come to live among the decently snobbish chief clerks, car salesmen, and dress buyers. The building was handsome and slick, suggesting a kind of H.G. Wells Hellenism. There were wide high windows covering the lengthy façade, well-proportioned and decently spaced, and the airy portico evoked, with its slim columns topped with ram’s-horn volutes, the leisured dialectics of a never-ending Platonic summer.

‘But you like her, don’t you? You like Mrs Connor?’ For himself, thought Howarth, he did not particularly like Mrs Connor. He desired Mrs Connor, however.

Howarth began to see that, however much it was against one’s will and convictions, sides had to be taken, the dreary corrupt world of politics had to be entered by the good and dispassionate, to protect and avenge the weak. But one always entered too late.

There was a silence. Outside, and most unfortunately, a boy could be heard calling to another boy: ‘Piss off, Cowie.’ Stern looks were fixed on Woolton.

‘Do come round this morning,’ said Woolton to his wife…. Both silly old women, he thought….To be alone again, to be free of women, a celibate scholar, witty, witty sometimes with delicate impropriety, whose monographs were admired, whose major work on Pindar…

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