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Sarah Wintle

Sarah Wintle teaches English at University College, London.

Prep-School Girl

Sarah Wintle, 4 April 1985

George Orwell was sent to St Cyprian’s in September 1911, when he was eight years old. His sisters, Marjorie and Averil stayed at home until they were 11. Orwell went on to Eton, his sisters, Bernard Crick writes, ‘to a girls’ boarding-school at Oxford, a decent enough place but by no means famous or front rank’. Forty-five years later I went, at nine, to a girls’ prep school, and then, at 12, to a girls’ public school, both of them boarding. Neither’s name is generally familiar or well-known, yet many of my school-fellows’ fathers and brothers, especially at my second school, had been or were at Eton, Winchester or Harrow.

Donne’s Reputation

Sarah Wintle, 20 November 1980

In his preface to this celebratory volume of essays presented to Dame Helen Gardner on her 70th birthday, John Carey apologises for the fact that the topics discussed are restricted to 16th and 17th-century English literature. Dame Helen’s latest book, after all, was The Composition of ‘The Four Quartets’. Eliot’s presence, though, still hovers over 17th-century literary studies, and it hovers over much of this book. Five of the essays, including a splendid piece by Barbara Everett on epic catalogues, are on Milton. Eliot made a major contribution to the ‘dislodgement’ of Milton, but Milton studies never even faltered. Indeed, important books like Ricks’s Milton’s Grand Style were conceived of as counterblasts to the Leavis-Eliot offensive. Barbara Everett’s piece is too: her starting-point is Eliot’s treatment of Milton’s name-dropping in the first of his essays on that poet – treatment which she proves to be curiously illuminating of Milton’s practice.

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