Murphy’s Mockingbird

When Mr Gove decided that Harper Lee’s seminal novel To Kill A Mockingbird should be summarily dismissed from the National Curriculum, Sophie Murphy of 13T was one of many Surbiton High students to be affronted by this callous decision. In her own words, “it’s a novel that teaches so much to teenagers”.

In the light of these words, Sophie came to talk to us at Lit Soc on Thursday 21st January about one of her favourite texts. Her theme was the motif of the Mockingbird itself, and how it applies the principal characters of the book. Supplemented by readings from the book and clips from the classic movie starring Gregory Peck (the English department’s favourite actor), Sophie first explored the nature of the bird itself: apparently, it is known for parenting skills! And then went on to talk about Boo, Mayella, Mrs Dubose, Calpurnia and Jem, discussing how they embody the Mockingbird motif.


It didn’t take long for discussions to break out across the table, as so many people had read and loved it: the controversy surrounding Mockingbird’s sequel Go Set A Watchman, our take on the recent dramatised version at Richmond Theatre, and how we now feel about it as adults compared to when we first encountered it in our younger days.

Many thanks to Sophie for a stimulating and informative session, and for reminding us “it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird” (Mr Gove).

Meeting Margaret

Yet another leading literary light left the literary stage this week, when Hunter Davies announced the death of his wife Margaret Forster. Lit Soc could not this pass, given that her ouevre is beloved by Ms Haydon.

Even though Ms Haydon couldn’t join us, she passed on her thoughts on one of her favourite authors:

Very sad to hear about Margaret Forster as I must be one of her number one fans . I never go on holiday without one of her books . I was fortunate to meet her once at a Press event in London. She was an unassuming and humble lady .


Memory Box , Diary of an Ordinary Woman , Good Wives , Have the men had enough ? Private Papers , Shadow Babies … they are all on my bookshelf ! 

Interestingly , it was Liz Style , mum of Lydia Style who introduced me to Margaret Forster.


Mr Humphreys was one of the only members of Lit Soc to have read Georgy Girl, her breakthrough novel, and to this day he regrets not having explored the rest of her novels. Ms Huntley, having searched high and low for Carr’s Water Biscuits – whose history Ms Forster had written – enjoyed talking about her non-fiction work. Daphne du Maurier (author of Rebecca), Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Bonnie Prince Charlie all benefited from her thorough research and accessible style.

Ms King gave Memory Box the page 69 test, which it passed with flying colours, intriguing us all with a description of a journey to the Lake District. We finished our discussion with a viewing of the titles of the classic film starring Lynn Redgrave, paying particular attention to the lyrics, which aptly described the eponymous heroine’s character.