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Edmond Gordon Talk

We were very fortunate to welcome Edmund Gordon to Hampton Court House on Monday 22 May 2017. Edmund is a world-renowned author, university lecturer (King’s college) and expert on the writer. He had just returned from a US tour with his new biography ‘The Invention of Angela Carter’. The timing... of this event was serendipitous; a month exactly until the Year 13 English exam on gothic literature. Edmund spent five years researching Angela Carter and admitted that, by the end of this epic project, he felt he knew Carter better than himself! The seminar focused particularly on the exam text ‘The Bloody Chamber’ and a rich contextualisation of Carter’s spectrum of influences from folklore and surrealism to Japanese culture. He emphasised to students the danger of reading Carter along strictly ‘feminist’ or ‘gothic’ lines, highlighting her playfulness and willingness to shock in re-imagining the latent content within fairytales. Unlike many feminists, she considered men and women as fundamentally alike and strove to represent the female voice in its myriad forms. Carter was fascinated by extrapolating symbols of sexuality and death from ancient fairy tales to subvert the status quo. He urged that Carter’s literature should be appreciated as ‘political’ too; though she would have disliked being limited to any narrow genre. Gordon conversed with our students who clearly demonstrated their knowledge and appreciation of Carter’s repertoire. His depth of insight into Carter’s work, personality and penetrating intellect made for a truly enriching talk which enabled our students to gain an illuminating and intimate understanding of this extraordinary writer.

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House Debating Competition

Hampton Court House was animated by lively discussion, with the first Inter-House Debating Competition taking place last week. Over forty pupils from the Middle Years, Upper Years and Sixth Form participated in debates about pressing political and cultural questions. It was wonderful to see so many enthusiasts...

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Shakespeare Workshops at HCH

The English Department welcomed The Guildford Shakespeare Company back to HCH this week. Previous generations of students have found their ‘on your feet’ approach to revision extremely helpful, enlivening the text just in time for exams. The Sixth Form workshop was on ‘Coriolanus’, with Year... 11 working on ‘Henry V’. The students did themselves proud with the workshop leaders commenting on their in depth knowledge of the texts and fine debating skills.

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Year 2 Reading with Brynley and Jasmine

Since March, children in Year 2 have been reading once a week with two of our Year 12 students, Brynley and Jasmine.

Friday afternoon has become a special time in our week as the children love reading in the library and sharing stories with the older students.

Thank you to Brynley and Jasmine for making the time to join the Year 2 children. It has been a great success.

Jonathan Drennan Assembly

The first Upper Years and Sixth Form assembly of the summer term was delivered by Jonathan Drennan. Jonathan is a Sydney-based journalist and advertising copywriter, and he delivered a well-received talk on his career. Jonathan is an advocate of supporting young people address mental health conditions,... and spoke with passion and insight on his own battles with such adversity. The questions that followed demonstrated how HCH students are well-equipped to discuss sensitive matters in a mature and thoughtful manner.

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HCH Poetry Competition

The English Department held a school-wide Poetry Competition on Tuesday 21st March – World Poetry Day.

After an overwhelming number of entries – three times as many as last year – the winners were chosen. As all entries were anonymous it proved tricky to track the award-winning poets down, but... we can now confirm the joint winners are:

Jasmine (Y12) – ‘The Calm Before’
Charles (Y8) – ‘Reality’

The judges also gave an honourable mention to Asimina (Y9) for her poem ‘Rouge Balloon’ and the anonymous poet who penned ‘Spring’.

On behalf of all the judges, I would like to commend all the various poets in the school for producing such high quality work.

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Sixth Form English Trip to The Globe

The White Devil – Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, The Globe (27 March 2017)

As Year 12 and 13 are currently grappling with John Webster’s ‘The Duchess Malfi’ as part of their English A Level, the opportunity to watch his companion play, ‘The White Devil’ was irresistible. Opened in 2014, the Sam... Wanamaker playhouse allows modern audiences to watch Elizabethan and Jacobean plays in their original performance conditions – candlelit and devoid of any modern theatrical trickery. This proved to be the perfect environment for our students, who were able to see Webster’s work in its original atmosphere.

Webster’s work is well-known for its racy themes and high body count, and sure enough, this appealed to the Sixth Formers. With enough blood to rival a Quentin Tarantino film, this performance was not for the faint hearted. However, the students narrowly managed to avoid fainting and revelled in the fast-paced action and verbal jousting of Webster’s original text. Particular highlights were the Jacobean music that accompanied the action, and the Duke of Florence’s coat, which was uncannily similar to Brynley’s.

The evening ended in a whirlwind of death and destruction before students and teachers alike emerged into the misty splendour of the Thames by night, their minds filled with potential murder methods and sharpened understanding of how 17th century theatre shocked the senses.

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