The irrepressible Professor John Sutherland and I visited Winchester College last week, having accepted an invitation from Richard Stillman, the Head of English, to visit the school and talk about Connell Guides. John showed his customary skill in engaging the students using his extraordinary breadth of knowledge to discourse amusingly not just on Hamlet (as we’d planned to do) but also on King Lear and Jane Eyre – firing questions at the students who fielded them with aplomb.
By a strange coincidence, the winner of the Connell Guides essay prize this year, Jeremy Choo, happened to be a Winchester boy, so I took the opportunity to present him with the prize. Actually that’s not quite true: I managed to weigh him down with a whole set of Connell Guides, though I didn’t have the £500 cheque with me, assuring him instead, in the time-honoured phrase, that it was “in the post”. John and I then had lunch with the boys in one of Winchester’s charming houses, and afterwards chatted to members of the English department. These visits are always fun – and useful. It’s great to meet enthusiastic readers of our guides and to be given ideas about which texts, or subjects, we ought to be covering next.