Shrewsbury School

Shrewsbury Classicist Highly Commended in Oxford College National Essay Competition

Friday 25 September 2020

Bertie Shepherd-Cross (O U6) is celebrating after being highly commended for his submission in a national essay writing competition.

The Mary Renault Prize is a Classical Reception essay prize for schools’ and colleges’ sixth form pupils, awarded by the Principal and Fellows of St Hugh’s College, Oxford; the prizes are funded by the royalties from the late novelist’s book sales.

Bertie tackled the ambitious and fascinating subject of the ancients’ portrayal of skin colour and its perception and use in modern times. ‘Fascism, Slavery and White Supremacy: Why We Need to Colour Correct Antiquity’ looked at the issues and questions raised by the practice of representing marble statues as being monochrome, when in reality Greeks and Romans painted them, often in rather gaudy colours. 

Bertie said, ‘It was enjoyable researching a topic that I found very intriguing; the misconception today is that all ancient statues were a sort of whitewashed cream colour – this was simply not the case.’

Head of Classics Mr Paul Fitzgerald added, ‘Bertie’s essay was a real work of scholarship, self-motivation and research; he clearly had put in the hours and his commendation shows how high the bar is in this national competition; it will certainly bolster his application this term to read Classics at Oxford.’

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