Move over Mr Chips. Kidson had everything that central casting requires of a legendary schoolmaster: a passion for his subject, a brilliant didactic style, a silly walk, a smelly spaniel, breath-taking rudeness, eccentric mannerisms and catchphrases, a maverick attitude towards authority, and above all, a deep empathy, loyalty and dedication towards his boys. He had an extraordinary influence on his pupils – David Cameron, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Johnnie Boden, Nicky Henderson, Sir Matthew Pinsent, ‘Lupin’ and Dominic West among them.
This unique portrait features recollections and vignettes of incidents in the classroom and the tutorial. As Kidson was an inspirational History Beak (master), history is a strong theme throughout the book and through Kidson’s life story we get a vivid social history of the latter part of the twentieth century where the themes of education, culture, teaching, adolescence, discipline, mentorship, pronunciation, parenting and old age are all examined.
There will also be a limited edition copy — leather bound in dark blue with gilt edges, ribbon marker slip, signed and numbered by the author — at £200 per copy to raise funds for the Kidson Bursary. If you would like to reserve a copy, please contact us directly.
Jamie Blackett was born in 1964 and educated at Ludgrove, Eton (where he was tutored by Michael Kidson), the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and later Warwick Business School (MBA).
After working in South Africa he joined the Coldstream Guards, serving in Northern Ireland, the First Gulf War, Hong Kong, the Falkland Islands, Zimbabwe and Germany. He returned to his roots in Galloway where he is now a farmer, forester, bed and breakfast and holiday cottage host, gardener and odd job man and occasional freelance journalist writing on farming and the countryside.
His housemaster would be astonished to learn that he is a Deputy Lieutenant for Dumfriesshire and a member of the Queen’s Bodyguard for Scotland Royal Company of Archers. He is married with two children.
- Book Specifications
Sub Heading The Portrait of a Schoolmaster ISBN 9781846892653 Author Jamie Blackett Binding Paperback Extent 344 pages, 234mm x 153mm Illustrations Photographs Ebook Yes
'I didn’t expect to be moved to tears by a tribute book to an Etonian schoolmaster. But the story of Michael Kidson (1929–2015) drew me in and moved me deeply. This sprawling hotchpotch of recollections turns out to be essential reading for anyone interested in the forming of teenaged boys’ minds and, in its very haphazardness, manages to paint a remarkably full portrait of a good, kind and enigmatic bachelor schoolmaster who changed boys’ lives by civilising them and being there for them in the ways that mattered.' - Ysenda Maxtone Graham The Oldie
'A Stirring, often hilarious biography of Michael Kidson, a fullthrottle eccentric who taught boys at Eton for 40 years. Think the History Boys meets Goodbye, Mr Chips.' - Allison Pearson, The Sunday Telegraph
'Michael Kidson was a wonderful eccentric and an inspiring teacher. Reading this book brought back many happy memories.' — David Cameron
'Nothing short of a triumph. I laughed out loud dozens of times... it is really, really wonderful' — Sir Matthew Pinsent
'This book, a feast of anecdotes about a remarkable schoolmaster, is a delight. Michael Kidson, for all his eccentricity, exemplified the essential character of a great teacher; read The Enigma and learn about life.' — Sir Jeremy Greenstock
My four brothers and husband all went to Eton but The Enigma of Kidson is the only book I've ever read that makes me long to have gone to the school too.' — Rachel Johnson
'This is the most delicious book. I have loved every page of it and laughed out loud. What a wonderful and extraordinary story. We should all have mavericks like Kidson in our lives.' — Penny Junor
'This book needs an H.M. Government health warning for OFSTED inspectors as it describes an inspired beak who ignored all the modern rules but put his pupils first.' — Jacob Rees Mogg
'Eccentricity is being squeezed out of teaching today. This book delightfully and powerfully shows us why our schools would benefit from more, not less of it' — Sir Anthony Seldon
‘Anyone who has been to school, or has ever been taught, will find it fascinating. It gave me a new understanding of some of my own teachers at Sherborne.’ — George Courtauld, author of The Pocket Book of Patriotism
'Michael Kidson was a rebellious Mr Chips, who stood up for the problematic boys at Eton with fire, and without fear of the school's ruling classes. To be taught history by this unique force of nature was, for me, a privilege. In his biography, The Enigma of Kidson, Jamie Blackett captures the spleen, and the heart, of a great teacher and a magnificent man.' — Charles Spencer
'If you enjoyed Dear Lupin you will love this book' — Country Life
'This funny and fascinating book….is a delight to read and a fitting testament.' — Alexandra Henton, The Field
'This is a book that I found impossible to put down. I read it, if not in one sitting, then so voraciously that I gave myself no time to savour it; and so started all over again.' — Pissed-off Toff (Read more here).
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