Frank McEachran, known to his pupils as ‘Kek’, and his ‘spells’ entranced his pupils for the 40 years he taught at Shrewsbury from 1935 until his death in 1976. His memory lives on in this wackiest of competitions, each entrant choosing their own ‘spell’, reciting and talking about it for up to four minutes, a task demanding not only of a buccaneering intellect but also considerable courage. A record number of entrants put themselves forward this year, resulting in one of the strongest ever fields.
Our youthful judge, herself a sometime winner of the McEachran Prize, was Esmé O’Keeffe, Shrewsbury School’s first Head Girl, currently reading Politics at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Her daunting task required her to make a selection from a series of stimulating and eclectic talks on a wide variety of ‘spells’ ranging from Milton via Marx to the singer/songwriter Kanye West.
The full text of the ‘spells’ which formed the basis of the talks can be found here.
Tom Allen’s winning talk was a reflection on the closing lines of Matthew Arnold’s Dover Beach. At the other end of the cultural spectrum, Sophia Bureau meditated on lines from Kanye West’s song Everything I am, while Jonathan Snell rounded off the evening with a fascinating perspective on Karl Marx and religion.
Congratulations to all spell weavers – the audience was indeed bewitched.