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The first full-length biography of one of the great educators of the 19th Century, Edward Thring, who was Headmaster of Uppingham School for more than 34 years, was launched on Thursday 1st May.
The Old School Room, a room built during Thring’s tenure, buzzed with anticipation as guests from all over the country came together to celebrate the much anticipated publication of ‘Thring of Uppingham: Victorian Educator’, written by Nigel Richardson, former Second Master at the School.
Edward Thring, thought of by many as Uppingham’s second founder, also founded the first meeting of the Headmasters’ Conference (HMC) in 1869 and is regarded as the best-known figure within independent schools in the generation after the famous Dr Thomas Arnold of Rugby.
Nigel Richardson, who taught at Uppingham from 1971 – 1989 and who himself became Chairman of the HMC seven years ago, said: “Edward Thring’s philosophy of education was what has become known as an holistic approach – he created the ethos of all-round education which still lives on at Uppingham School today. In a fully boarding school it is vital that each pupil is given every conceivable opportunity to find activities at which they excel, in addition to what is on offer within the classroom, on the games field, in the concert hall and the theatre. Edward Thring’s approach to education is as relevant today as it was when he was Headmaster of Uppingham in the mid-19th Century.”
The book, published by The University of Buckingham Press, draws extensively on letters and other material recently discovered in archives in both Britain and Canada. It shows just how ground-breaking Edward Thring’s reforms really were; the soundness or otherwise of his methods of financing Uppingham School’s growth; his battles with government in the 1860s and with the epidemic disease which threatened to wipe out the School in the 1870s; his passionate belief in child-centred approaches in primary and secondary education; the personal cost to him of achieving his vision; why he polarised people between passionate supporters and strong opponents and the bitter battle over who should be his literary executor.
Speaking at the launch Nigel commented on how his interest in Edward Thring started some 40 years ago. Since then he has travelled across continents, read volumes of archive material and now, many thousands of words later, an insightful publication on a man whose educational values continue to provide the foundations of Uppingham’s vision and mission today, is available for all.
Nigel Richardson is pictured left, with some of the Thring family descendants. (From L-R Edward Thring, Nigel Richardson, Georgina Mander, John Thring and Henrietta Wynn-Finch)The book (RRP £25) is available from Uppingham Sports and Books, 9 High Street West, Uppingham, LE15 9PY. To order your copy of ‘Thring of Uppingham: Victorian Educator’ call 01572 822211.
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