Poems by Edgar Alan Poe, T S Eliot, Thomas Hardy and Philip Larkin carried the field in this year's Bentley Elocution Prize, Shrewsbury School's ancient elocution (irreverently and long known as 'electrocution') competition dating from the mid 19th century.
The poems chosen by the twenty-five finalists included two by pupils themselves. Martin Thorpe, formerly the Headmaster of the Priory School and the Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, brought the linguistic and literary sensitivities of the experienced schoolmaster, Open University lecturer and professional Classicist to bear on his adjudication. He also achieved that rarest of things, a near full agreement with his verdicts among the members of the English Department, and a record for the rapidity of his decisions.
- Oliver Landsell (3 PH) with lines from Poe's The Raven
- Edward Carroll (4 Ch) with T S Eliot's The Hollow Men
- Ralph Wade (5 Rb) with Hardy's The Voice
- Robert Cross (L6 S) with Larkin's Aubade.
That so many pupils are prepared to step up to the mark and recite in front of their peers, in an educational climate where memorising lines other than for acting purposes is no longer given the priority it once was, is truly heartening. Mr. Thorpe paid warm tribute to all the contestants, seasoning his praise with some sound advice, not least to resist the temptation to distract the audience by gesticulating or moving around the stage while reciting.
RTH / JAS