Literature, music and freedom of expression

My assembly on 16 November celebrated the very rich history of creative writing we have here at Bedales. We have over 400 published works in the Library which is pretty impressive for a school that has, until fairly recently, been of a modest size. In the wake of the terrible atrocities in Paris on Friday 13 November, I was concerned about the seeming frivolity and privilege of the writing of poetry or short stories, but our passion for art, literature and music are also under attack and it is this freedom of expression, amongst many other things, that I hope we value and want to protect.

The assembly began with a very moving piece of music written and performed by Delilah Montagu in 6.2 in response to the Paris attacks, she was joined by Caleb Curtis on cello and Alia Mehta on vocals. We have many impressive writers who are very well known; John Wyndham, Harriet Lane, Kate Summerscale and Thom Gunn to mention a few, but who were all represented through readings by staff and students. We also had extracts read out from younger students of yesteryear who contributed to various Bedales publications as far back as the 1920s; Lucas Closs in 6.2 read a rather amusing piece on The Cow by an anonymous boy who narrates an unfortunate encounter of the bovine variety which ends somewhat bathetically in a ditch. We then had a number of brave souls, Becky Grubb, Aidan Hall and Sam Headon who all volunteered to read from their own work; impressive it was too.

The assembly ended with a piece by Joan Billson who was here in 1927 and at the age of 15 wrote a rather stirring and evocative piece called Cutting Class in March which speaks of a yearning for the great outdoors that we are blessed with here in Steep and which, I feel, underlines a spirit of liberty and freedom that our own creative writing can so perfectly express.

By David Anson, Head of English

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