D R Thorpe

House & Year at Fettes:
Inverleith, Sept 1956
College West, Jan 1957 to Dec 1961

Qualifications & Career
Selwyn College, Cambridge, 1962 - 1965. B.A. Hons, 1965, M.A. Hons, 1969.
Schoolmaster at Charterhouse, 1965 to 1997
Archives Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge, 1986.
Sir Alistair Horne Fellow, St. Antony's College, Oxford, 1997 - 1998
Senior Member, Brasenose College, Oxford, 1998 to the present.

Political Biographer. Author of:
The Uncrowned Prime Ministers: A Study of Sir Austen Chamberlain, Lord Curzon and Lord Butler,

Selwyn Lloyd, 1989. The official life of the OF who was Foreign Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchquer and Speaker of the House of Commons.
Alec Douglas-Home, 1996. The official life written at the invitation of Sir Alec.
Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, 1897-1977, 2003. The official life written at the request of Eden's widow, the Countess of Avon.
Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan, 2010. Winner of the English Speaking Union Marsh Biography Prize, 2009-2010. Shortlisted for the Orwell Political Prize.

What is your most cherished memory from your time at Fettes?
Playing Hamlet in the School Play in November 1960 and then playing Iago in Othello, the school play in November 1961, the two longest parts in Shakespeare.

And your least?
Cold showers and Rugby House Belows on freezing afternoons!

What person or event left a lasting impression on you?
Above all the high quality of the masters appointed in the 1950s, particularly by Dr Ian McIntosh from 1958. It is quite wrong to think of Fettes as a rugby school and nothing else. The arts were a really important part of the civilising effect at that time. One unregarded aspect of that era was the outstanding series of films we saw in Hall on Saturday nights (Bill Aitken on the projector) - not just Olivier's great Shakespeare films, but some of the outstanding films of that era - Odd Man Out, Colonel Blimp, Whisky Galore, The Maggie, On the Waterfront, etc, an education in itself.

From the Common Room one thinks of Teddy Gage and Michael Lester-Cribb, and outstanding schoolmasters such as Eric Anderson, Bob Roberts, George Preston and Patrick Croker. The Oxbridge seventh term in September 1961 was a more memorable academic experience than the following three years at Cambridge, good though those were.

Were you a conscientious student?
I hope so. In the Oxbridge seventh term, I had to be organised above all else - playing Iago, being Head of College West and working for Cambridge entrance.

Outside the classroom how did you spend your free time at Fettes?
Mainly acting, under three great directors - George Booth, Teddy Gage and Bob Roberts - Murder in the Cathedral, 1957; Maria Marten or the Murder in the Red Barn 1958, the CW House play with 'Arkie' Koehl, an American exchange student, playing on the piano; The Playboy of the Western World, 1958; She Stoops to Conquer, 1959; The Lark by Jean Anouilh, 1960 with College West, and the two big Shakespeares.

It was good too to walk up to the golf course below Youngs and play a few holes, especially on a summer's evening. The Athletics track was also a much frequented place. I was a high jumper in the school team.

Happy memories too of the view of the Edinburgh skyline from College West, especially on the night when Prince Andrew was born on 19 February 1960, when it was floodlit from the Castle down to Arthur's Seat.