World Book Day promotes the life-long love of books and reading, celebrating that reading for pleasure is a key factor in a child’s future success. A childhood love of reading leads to a life-long thirst for knowledge, learning and escapism amongst the pages of fiction and non-fiction publications.
Sharing the joy and benefits of reading flows through the very veins of life at the College in the classroom, in extra-curricular book clubs across all ages and of course through the outstanding programme of events in our annual Festival of Literature which is shared across our whole community and beyond.
We are honoured to celebrate the diverse writing talents of just a small example of the gifted writers that we are privileged to embrace within our Stortfordian Community.
One of the most controversial authors of his generation attended the College from 1928-32. Peter Maurice Wright CBE, was a principal scientific officer for MI5 and his book Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer (1987), written with Paul Greengrass, became an international bestseller with sales of over two million copies. Spycatcher was part memoir, part exposé of what Wright claimed were serious institutional failings in MI5 and his subsequent investigations into those. Published first in Australia, the book was banned in England (but not Scotland) due to its allegations about government policy and incidents. These efforts ensured the book's notoriety following its publication in England in 1988.
Peter wright died in Tasmania on 27 April 1995, aged 78. The obituary in The Independent opined: ″No British intelligence officer other than Kim Philby caused more mayhem within Britain's secret services and more trouble for British politicians than Peter Wright.″
At the other end of the publishing spectrum is OS John Foley FRSA (AH, 61-67). After years of stage work as an actor, John turned to writing and radio. He has scripted and voiced more than 600 programmes for BBC English/World Service. Other audio work includes adapting numerous plays by writers such as Alan Bennett, Ronald Harwood, John Osborne, J. B. Priestley and Victoria Wood for World Service Drama and Radio 4. He has also produced more than 100 audiobooks for Macmillan, Naxos and Random House.
John’s diverse catalogue of published works include The Guinness Book of Beards & Moustaches (with Leslie Dunkling),The Guinness Encyclopedia of Signs & Symbols; a volume of musical anecdotes for Classic FM; stories for Disney comics, and a number of graded readers for children. in 2017 he turned his hand to writing children's stories to raise funds for charity when he penned the fabulous childen's book Seven Simple and Slightly Silly Stories. A popular stocking filler that was followed by Another Seven Simple and Slightly Silly Stories. Inspired by summers spent in Hans Christian Andersen’s house in Copenhagen, both collections of fables are enlivened by drawings from award-winning screenwriter, illustration artist and actor Grant Cathro. All profits from the first book are shared between Macmillan Cancer Support and The Silver Line, while from the second book all profits go to Mencap. Similarly, all profits from John’s latest book, The Bear in the Fifth Floor Flat, are also for Mencap.
One of the College’s most famous alumni, OS Dick Clement (SH, 50-55) and his writing partner, Ian La Frenais again shared their globally commended writing skills through the publishing of their memoirs More Than Likely documenting a career spanning over 50 years. Dick and Ian's dual memoir is told with flair and immense humour. It is also full of unexpected happenings, rogues and rock stars, prima donnas, plots and panic.
Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais's unique writing partnership has lasted over fifty years. After creating the characters of Bob and Terry, factory hands from the north-east of England, in The Likely Lads and Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, their reputation as great screenwriters was secured. Their acclaimed careers have included writing, directing and producing iconic TV programmes like Porridge, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Lovejoy. Their feature films include Otley, The Commitments and Still Crazy and animated children's favourite Flushed Away. Along the way, they have had unforgettable encounters with movie stars like Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Marlon Brando, Michael Caine and Sean Connery - not to mention with stellar performers as varied as Billy Connolly, George Best, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Ronnie Wood and Tracey Ullman.
College Parent and previous star of the Festival of Literature, Hina Belitz was born in Pakistan to an Indian Father and a Mother of Iranian, Afghan and Indian descent and her family moved to the UK when she was an infant, settling in Andover in leafy Hampshire. As an author and renowned equal rights lawyer, she graduated in law and creative writing at Brunel and Cambridge University respectively and has post-graduate qualifications from the Guildford University of Law and her fiction and essays have appeared in the Guardian and on The BBC.
Her debut novel, Set Me Free, was an Amazon best debut, a Herald Scotland Book of the Week, a Lovereading Book of the Year and she was named a rising writer (Hive.co.uk). Following the release of Set Me Free, Hina was approached by Hollywood icon, Morgan Freeman to take part in a National Geographic production, The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman and the interview appears in the episode entitled The Power of Love (presently on Netflix). Her second novel To Lahore with Love was published in Spring 2020.
Through her writing, Hina’s aim is to shine a light on two things; the many roles we all play in life and on things that really matter with her vivid life experiences bringing great vibrancy to her writing.
Now based in the United States, OS Mark Pryor (SH, 80-85) is mystery writer and Assistant District Attorney for Travis County, Texas. Mark grew up in Hertfordshire and then earned a journalism degree and became a police reporter for a paper in Colchester. In 1994, he moved to his mother’s home state, North Carolina, and returned to University where he received a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina in 1999 and a law degree from Duke University in 2002. After graduating, he moved to Dallas, Texas to practice civil law. In 2006, he moved to Austin, Texas to accept a position with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.
Mark is best known for his mystery novels featuring Hugo Marston, a former FBI agent from Texas, and now head of security at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Mark is also the author of the nonfiction book, As She Lay Sleeping, based on the 1985 cold case murder of Natalie Antonetti (the mother of Johnny Goudie) that he successfully prosecuted in 2011. He has appeared on CBS News' "48 Hours" and Discovery Channel's "Discovery ID: Cold Blood" discussing the case. He is also the creator of the true-crime blog D.A. Confidential.
The writing talents within our community are diverse and extend across the world as this snapshot of Stortfordian authors illustrates. Celebrating and applauding all who contribute in so many ways makes for the joy of being part of such an interesting community and we wish all Stortfordian writers and authors every sucess in their future endeavours.
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