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Hardly a Scholar
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By Shearwood, Ken. With a Foreword by Ted Maidment
ISBN 1904999948
Paperback  476 pages
 
Published 1 January 2009
UK Price £19.95   Order from amazon.co.uk
US Price $35.00   Order from amazon.com

Ken Shearwood's vigorous and lively autobiography is the story of a successful life, way out of the schoolmaster's common run. Now in his eighties, Shearwood tells of his schooldays at Shrewsbury, of harrowing and hazardous times on destroyers and landing craft in the Second World War, a first career spent professionally inshore fishing off Cornwall, and then, admission to Oxford with about as few academic qualifications as one can reasonably imagine. No matter; an excellent all-round games player, and at soccer a frankly uncompromising centre half, Shearwood was to become an integral part of the briefly flowering Pegasus side from Oxford and Cambridge which, remarkably, twice won the Amateur Cup.

After Shearwood retired from the game, he taught - not without considerable difficulty in the maths area - at Lancing, where he was to stay, as master, housemaster and registrar for the rest of his working life, serving under six headmasters, and (when President of the Common Room) becoming a Governor: that time had its sticky moments. Pen pictures and anecdotes - shrewd, funny, sparkling, but never unkind - abound, for this is a contented man, happily married for over fifty years. There were eccentrics at Lancing, as at every public school, and we see glimpses of them, occasionally rather sad ones, but Shearwood was not one of them; happy when coaching the school eleven, when teaching Tudor and Stuart history, happiest of all when teaching English literature, he gave much to Lancing. That great Arsenal and England footballer Joe Mercer once introduced Ken Shearwood as the "best centre half in England"; even if he exaggerated, he may not have been too far from the truth.

Hardly a Scholar is well illustrated; long though it is, I was sorry to see it come to its end. It is not often one finds oneself saying that; and many people should buy this wholly admirable book, by one who is indeed hardly a scholar, but is most assuredly a man. - Colin Leach, Times Literary Supplement.


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