There was a time before JK Rowling. A time we spoke of other initialed authors JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, AA Milne and JM Barrie. An age of Young Fogeys, Sloane Rangers and “Brideshead Revisited.” We called that time the 1980s.
Photographer Mark Draisey now shows us what we were not allowed to see. His book “Thirty Years On! A Private View Of Public Schools,” published in 2014, takes us into the everyday life and rituals of 25 British public schools during the Thatcher years. Over a five-year period, Draisy had full access to schools such as Eton, Harrow and Sherbourne. The result is this belated photographic swan song to the decade. Draisey’s book captures public school life at the apex of its threadbare glory. Soon after the photos were taken these institution would feel the pressure to spruce up, and some would have to, shall we say, allow the ladies into the library for cigars.
It is too early to tell whether Draisey will be celebrated, pilloried for class crimes, or go wholly unnoticed. Whatever the reaction in his homeland, this book will delight American Anglophiles and armchair social historians. Visit this Daily Mail link for a slideshow. — CHRISTOPHER SHARP