2017-01-15 3:44 pm Updated by Admin

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The Enigma of Kidson: Portrait of an Eton Schoolmaster



By: Jamie Blackett(Author)

Language: English

Genre: Education Studies & Teaching

Publisher: Quiller Publishing Ltd (12 Jun. 2017)

Format: pdf doc docx mobi djvu epub ibooks (*An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.)

The original title of the book: The Enigma of Kidson: Portrait of an Eton Schoolmaster

"A great read about a great man" - Taki, The Spectator

The Enigma of Kidson is a moving, thought-provoking, inspiring and hilarious biography of an inspirational and controversial teacher

Move over Mr Chips! Michael 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.

'I didnt 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' - Ysenda Maxtone Graham, The Oldie

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, redemption and old age are all examined.

'If you enjoyed Dear Lupin you will love this book' - Rupert Uloth, Country Life


Michael Kidson was a wonderful eccentric and an inspiring teacher. Reading this book brought back many happy memories - David Cameron

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

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

Nothing short of a triumph. I laughed out loud dozens of times....it is really, really wonderful - Sir Matthew Pinsent

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

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 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

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

A great read about a great man --Taki, The SpectatorIf you enjoyed Dear Lupin you will love this book --Rupert Uloth, Country LifeI didnt 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

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  • By Guest on 16 June 2017

    Great book and very amusing. Cannot recommend it more highly.

  • By Guest on 25 June 2017

    A fantastic book, and one that is both amusing and thought-provoking. At a time when it's easy to knock the public school system, reading this work shows just why such schools get great results. Not by modern, politically-correct methods, and not by Victorian textbook copying-out. Kidson had a love for history, and he brought his classes to life with his unbridled enthusiasm. There was no need for films or acting things out, just his wonderful use of language, but woe betide anyone caught messing about, as a large wooden object might be thown at them.But alongside his love of history was the way he instilled an appreciation of art and sport - horse racing in particular - and the occasional tipple. And despite how he appeared on the surface, Kidson genuinely cared about all his pupils, whatever their academic abilities.And that showed in the way he was looked after following his retirement.A genuinely lovely book - I don't read many twice, but this one I most definitely will.

  • By Mrs. Mc Small on 8 August 2017

    Absolutely adored this book. Long been fascinated by Eton and this book really conquers up the British public school in the 70s and 80s and of Kidson a wonderful teacher and English eccentric. I read it on holiday and found the anecdotal style so entertaining and laugh out loud. I loath the political correctness in schools these days it doesn't do children any favours. I have to say I had tears streaming down my face at the end where the old boys arrange a dinner at White's club and the sad ending where Kidson looses his dogs and then dies peacefully. Wonderfully poingnant, sad but life affirming.

  • By A E Bruce on 16 June 2017

    Biographer Jamie Blackett has done a splendid job in describing the eventful and colourful life of this original and Gloriously un PC of schoolmasters. Trendy leftie "Guardian Readers" are unlikely to read this fantastic book, though they might benefit from it if they did as Michael Kidson, who I did not know, was an inspirational teacher, who imbued a strong love for history in so many young men. He influenced the lives of hundreds of young men, including former Prime Minister David Cameron, actor Dominic West, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Olympian rower Matthew Pinsent and the current Archbishop of Canterbury to name but a few. His great talent was in encouraging boys that others had given up on and who then flowered. With the help of Jamie Blacketts splendid book, Michael Kidsons life changing legacy will be remembered for a long long time to come. This is a true page turner that had me laughing out loud and also shedding a few tears towards the end of a long life well lead. I do hope thst this is not the last that we have read from the pen of Jamie Blackett. He has a great literary talent and his public deserves more. Thank you Mr Blackett.

  • By Mark Odescalchi on 20 July 2017

    I thoroughly enjoyed "The Enigma of Kidson". It took me back 50 yrs. I was a pupil at Papplewick, a prep school where Michael Kidson taught me English and History for 4 years. Three or four years later he moved to Eton where he remained a master for 30 years and became a legend.Michael Kidson was all the things that emerge from Jamie Blackett's excellent biography. He delivered insults to his pupils with a certain panache, sometimes lobbying a wooden blackboard rubber in the direction of the miscreant often skillfully enough to land on the pupils desk covering him in a cloud of chalk dust. He could be extremely rude to anybody he felt deserved such treatment. He insisted on a somewhat eccentric set of rules of pronunciation. This was all bluster often used to gain attention. Kidson knew his subject and had a way of transmitting his enthusiasm to generations of pupils who were lucky enough to benefit from it. On its own this was remarkable enough but what really left its mark on generations of pupils was his profound generosity and kindness.Many of his former pupils have become well known public figures. Upon hearing that David Cameron had received an A in history "A" level Kidson apparently remarked that it was 'among the most inexplicable events of modern history'. Blackett devotes a chapter to anecdotes from former pupils including such a diverse bunch as Justin Welby, Matt Pinsent, Jacob Ress-Mogg and Nat Rothschild, They appear to have one thing in common, a profound affection for Kidson which has stayed with them. Anyone who enjoys a good story should read this book but also anyone considering trusting their child to the care of a politically correct box ticking teacher might want to think again...

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