Mr Tibbits's Catholic School Paperback – 1 Nov 2011
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`A small but perfectly formed masterpiece'
--Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph
From the Publisher
`John Betjeman used to say that he had never laughed so much as during the year in which he was the cricket master at a small private school,' writes A. N. Wilson in his introduction to this story of another small private school, St Philip's, founded in 1934 by Catholic convert Richard Tibbits, and still going strong today.
Like many of the best books, 'Mr Tibbits's Catholic School' is not easily classifiable. But for anyone who has enjoyed Evelyn Waugh's 'Decline and Fall', or Ronald Searle's 'St Trinian's', anyone who loves to laugh yet feels the poignancy of the passage of time, this book will be a treat.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Only warning: skip the preface by A.N. Wilson. It's pompous and nearly put me off - quite out of keeping with the unstuffy tone of Ysenda Maxtone Graham herself.
Head straight for page 17.
Founded by Richard Tibbits this book has a lot of reminiscences from former and current teachers (including the head master), and former pupils, some of whose names are instantly recognisable. Although a Catholic school it has always had a tradition of taking in non-Cathoics, indeed the founder's wife was Anglican, as also was the headmaster who took over when Mr Tibbits died.
This is one of those books that really you wish was longer as it is so fascinating and has a lot packed into it. With chain smoking and drunk teachers in the past, along with those who were never really qualified as such to teach there are also some quite eccentric characters. Opened in a house, the school still operates from the same premises, albeit with improvements made over the years. Closing during the Second World War, Mr Tibbits took those pupils who wanted to, to his parent's home in Warwick, with arrangements made to attend a prep school there.
This makes for a very enjoyable and entertaining read, with characters that you won't easily forget, and remember this is true, not fiction. As the school progressed through the decades you can also see how parents' attitudes, and school practices have changed. But what I found this book really brought home is the benefits of a small school.Read more ›
One of the many fascinating things about this unexpected tale is the relationship of the school with the Roman Catholic Church. This has not always been straightforward. The gallery of eccentrics portrayed in the book includes a priest who when asked to confess a lady in the street put up the tennis racquet he was carrying as a makeshift grille. I laughed out loud when I read this.
Strongly recommended to anyone who wants something unusual but quick to read. Quirky, yes; but the writing makes the story live. Julian Fellowes's (perfectly decent) afterword reads clumsily by comparison.