It’s World book Day today and as many of you grapple with oversized costumes and failing velcro, we wanted to bring to your attention a selection of some of the books from our talented alumni community.
The School celebrated World Book Day in style this year – the Junior School held a World Book Day Bonnet Parade where the children and teachers alike made and wore a hat/bonnet of their favourite book. The Junior School also welcomed author Lisa Rajan who held workshops with every year group. In the Senior School, staff shared ‘Shelfies’ about what they’re currently reading, pupils played ‘book bingo’ and years 7 and 8 are looking forward to author Anthony Kessel’s talk about writing mystery novels for teens.
Meanwhile, we bring you a selection of some of our top ten talented Alleyn’s alumni authors which spans a wide range of fiction and non-fictional genres to whet your literary appetite:
- The most recent addition to our Alumni authors list is Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen (Spurgeon's 1983) whose new design book More More More is a "rejection of good taste” and a celebration of “exuberance, lavish living, and individuality.”
- Winner of the Costa First Novel Award and a No.1 bestseller in The Times Caleb Azuma Nelson (Brading's 2012) continues to gather acclaim for his debut novel Open Water and unveils his next novel Small Worlds in May 2022.
- In 2019, multi-award-winning investigative journalist Heidi Blake (Tulley’s 2004) wrote From Russia with Blood: Putin’s Ruthless Killing Campaign and Secret War on the West which Jon Snow of Channel 4 News called 'brilliantly and bravely researched, this book lays bare the brutal and murderous truth'.
- Erstwhile Maccabees musician and broadcaster of the Tailenders cricket podcast Felix White (Roper’s 2003) is now a Sunday Times Bestseller thanks to his first book It’s Always Summer Somewhere
- Writer and illustrator Alexis Deacon’s (Brading's 1996) work includes award-winning children’s picture books Beegu, No Place Like Home and I am Henry Finch. Alex was included in the Book Trust's Ten Best New Illustrators, and Beegu was a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.
- Alom Shaha (Cribb’s 1992) is a physics teacher and children’s science author whose books aim to bring science to life.
- Nina Caplan (Spurgeon's 1991) was granted the accolade of being Drinks Writer of the Year in 2020 and her first book, The Wandering Vine: Wine, The Romans and Me, was named Louis Roederer Wine Book of the Year 2018 and Fortnum & Mason Debut Drink Book of the Year in 2019.
An acknowledgement too for alumni from an older generation, whose contribution to literature deserves a mention;
- RV Jones (Tulley's 19) documents his own account of his part in World War Two Intelligence and his role in anticipating German applications of science to warfare in Most Secret War; British Scientific intelligence 1939-1944
- Old Boy Cecil Louis Troughton Smith or ‘C S Forester’ (1899-1966) whose blue plaque can be seen at 58 Underhill Road, East Dulwich, was a novelist well-known for his 12-book series about Horatio Hornblower, depicting a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic wars. Two of the Hornblower books, A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours, were jointly awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1938.
- And not forgetting Edward Upward (Former Alleyn's English teacher and Housemaster 1932-62), British novelist and short story writer who was believed to be the UK's oldest living author, having written his last story Crommelin-Brown in 2003, shortly before he turned 100. In 2005 Upward was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and awarded its Benson Medal.
Finally, no Alleyn’s bookshelf would be complete without the work of Arthur Chandler (Brown's 1948) As former editor of the Edward Alleyn Club magazine, EAC former Secretary and Vice-President as well as acting as an Honorary Consultant Archivist to Alleyn's, Arthur Chandler’s career in Secondary and Adult Education and as a Heritage Consultant stood him in good stead for the compilation of Alleyn’s – the First Century and Alleyn's – The Co-educational School. If you don’t have a copy, get one now!