chapter  2
17 Pages

Slow growth, 1920-1944

In 1920 the future playwright Emlyn Williams joined six other pupils in the 'Honours Form' of Holyhead County School. All took History, French and English-though with only three teachers, 'women with the rest of the school on their hands', most of their lessons were unsupervised. It was his good fortune that one of the three had a personality 'which demanded a university platform facing a gallery'. She fed his devouring interest in literature, gave him books, passed on her weekly copy of the Observer, planned his long visit to France, and paid the entrance fee for the Oxford scholarship which he won (Williams, 1961). The historian A. L. Rowse was then at a Cornish secondary school. Its headmaster reinforced his determination to get to Oxford, but it was Rowse who did the work. No regular teaching was provided for the sixth form, and one able master left suddenly. 'If I had not been used to working on my own, doing my own reading and, so far as I could, directing my own course, it might have been disastrous.' His scholarship to the same college as Emlyn Williams was greeted at school with great jubilation-'tennis all the afternoon, icecream and tea at four o'clock and, I think, a whole holiday' (Rowse, 1942).