The History Boys Notes
Alan Bennett was born May 9th 1934 in Leeds. He attended Leeds Modern School. In 1957 he graduated from Exeter College, Oxford University with a first class degree in medieval history. Like his favourite poet, Philip Larkin, Bennett is interested in and what lies beneath the surface appears in the lives of ordinary people- the play is about private lives, race, sexual orientation etc. In his introduction to ‘Talking Heads’ Bennett talks about his personal faith when he was a teenager. He was an avid churchgoer and believed he would take holy orders. Bennett went to Holy Communion in the college chapel after his university interview. This links to the character Skripps. Bennett matured late and his voice broke late and he had a crush on a student he hoped to impress by getting a scholarship to Oxford. This links to the character Posner. In his third year at university Bennett claimed that “turning a question on its head and trotting out handy quotations” is something he mastered in his third year at university but felt it was “performance and not related to depth of knowledge”. This links to the character Irwin. Bennett himself was part of a group of 8 boys from Leeds Modern School who all achieved admittance in Oxbridge after a new master encouraged them. As a student, Bennett witnessed a French teacher openly weep in front of his class, asking “why am I wasting my life at this God- foresaken school?” This links to the character Hector. Bennett has put all his views amongst characters. He has not put all his views in one character because it is unrealistic to think one person could have all these private issues, although Alan Bennett has. Joseph O’ Mealey, writing in 2001 saw Bennett as “a writer who refuses to sentimentalize his characters by exempting them from satiric scrutiny” This links
Hector and Irwin
Hector admits straight away in the play that he didn’t go to Oxford; he is open and sees no need to lie....
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