Boys, parents and teaching staff gathered in the Langham Pavilion on Monday 11 March for the announcement of the winners of the Fowles and Archie Wellbelove Prizes. The former, named in honour of the illustrious Old Bedfordian author John Fowles (39-44), requires Sixth Form boys to produce a substantial and engaging essay. This year’s runner-up was Lower Sixth Former Daniel Smith, who explored whether, with communications technology becoming more sophisticated, face-to-face conversation remains important. Winner of this award was Lower Sixth Former Flik Feng who wrote stylishly and fascinatingly about the role of natural scientists in the development of artificial intelligence.

The Archie Wellbelove Prize is open to boys in the first three years of the Upper School and involves the submission of pieces of writing related to texts read outside the curriculum. We were delighted to welcome Mr and Mrs Wellbelove to present the award, which is named in memory of their son and Old Bedfordian Archie Wellbelove (01-12). This year’s shortlist was particularly strong. Remove Former Oscar Calvert constructed a superb analysis of Sylvia Plath’s poetry, touching on psychoanalysis, Hemingway and links between suffering and creativity. Harry Hine, also a Remove Former, roamed through the ‘routes’ and ‘roots’ of identity and experience as he considered fiction as a forest. The award went to Fifth Former Nathaniel Otley, however. His exploration of whether it is better to read or hear a piece of writing drew on Dylan Thomas and John Agard. It was beautifully crafted, intelligible and intelligent. 

After the prizes had been given out, guest speaker Old Bedfordian Dr Robert Stagg (00-07) gave a short talk about Shakespeare’s use of iambic pentameter and how important it is to question received literary wisdom. Dr Stagg is a Lecturer in English Language and Literature at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford. Earlier in the afternoon, he led incisive discussions of Hamlet and Twelfth Night in A-Level lessons.   

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