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Books

A rebellion among Rugby schoolboys proved perfect training for its ringleader in putting down a Jamaican slave-rising in later life

In a review of The Old Boys by David Turner, Eric Anderson reflects on how comprehensives created a golden age for Britain's independent schools

28 March 2015

9:00 AM

28 March 2015

9:00 AM

The Old Boys: The Decline and Rise of the Public Schools David Turner

Yale, pp.326, £25

The public schools ought to have gone out of business long ago. The Education Act of 1944, which promised ‘state-aided education of a rapidly improving quality for nothing or next to nothing’, seemed to herald, as the headmaster of Winchester cautioned, the end of fee-paying. Two decades later Roy Hattersley warned the Headmasters’ Conference to have ‘no doubts about our serious intention to reduce and eventually to abolish private education in this country’.Yet

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Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £21.50 Tel: 08430 600033. Eric Anderson was headmaster of Eton from 1980 to 1994 and provost of Eton from 2000 to 2009.

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