Martin Ferguson Smith
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“She had quite unusual gifts”: Dorothy L. Sayers at school
in In and out of Bloomsbury
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After being home-educated until she was fifteen and a half, Dorothy Leigh Sayers was sent to a boarding school by her parents in January 1909. They chose the Godolphin School, Salisbury. The essay presents some of the results of detailed research into Dorothy L. Sayers’s time at school. The main sources exploited are three: the letters, many of them unpublished, which she wrote while at the Godolphin; The Godolphin School Magazine; and the handwritten School Diary, with many items pasted in. Some use is also made of Dorothy’s unfinished novel Cat O’Mary, which is partly autobiographical, but not always factually reliable. As well as contributing much to school life, as a brilliant modern linguist and with her outstanding talents in music and drama, Dorothy benefited greatly from the high standard of education she received, from the civilised and stimulating atmosphere fostered by the outstanding headmistress, Mary Alice Douglas, and from the varied contacts she had with her fellow-pupils as well as with her teachers. But she also suffered setbacks, notably when she developed pneumonia after a bout of measles and nearly died, and when she left school suddenly before the end of what was planned to be her penultimate term.

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In and out of Bloomsbury

Biographical essays on twentieth-century writers and artists


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