Bolton School Former Pupils

Irving Wardle

Irving Wardle (1940-47)

After Bolton School Irving Wardle went to Oxford (Wadham) thence to National Service, and finally to the Royal College of Music. He was a 26 before he got a job. That was at the Times Educational Supplement, from which he slid sideways into becoming theatre critic for their main paper where he stayed from 1963 to 1989. Then he moved to the same job on the Independent on Sunday where he stayed until the mass blood-letting of 1996.

Aside from those two jobs and miscellaneous journalism, he edited a theatre magazine called Gambit for two years, had a play on at the Open Space (Tottenham Court Road) and produced two books, one a biography of the actor-director George Devine, and the second a how-to book on theatre criticism which can also be obtained in Russia and South Korea in the local languages.

Since leaving the Independent On Sunday, he has published a series of memoirs in the Economist magazine Intelligent Life, and produced a cabaret on the Weimar Republic starring satirist Kurt Tucholsky.

What is your connection to Bolton School? Were any other members of your family here?
I was at Bolton School from the beginning of the war until the end of it. My brother David (nine years younger than me) was also there, as a contemporary of Sir Ian McKellen.

What is your fondest Bolton School memory?
My best Bolton School memory was while writing a history essay for Bill Brown and abruptly realizing that I didn’t need to believe anything just because it was printed in a book.

Did any member of teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at school?
I was much affected by the gentle humanity, modesty, and theatrical encouragement of the English teacher Frank Green.

What do you feel your experience at Bolton School has given to you personally?
Bolton School restored my self-confidence after I’d arrived there demoralized by bullying at a previous school. Otherwise it allowed me to survive despite my incompetence at team games and maths. It also gave me a taste for public performance which I have never been able to satisfy in adult life.

What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton School pupils today?
If you know what you want to do, have no fear of competition.

What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign aim to re-establish genuine open access through its bursary fund?    
So far as I understand it, the 100 Campaign sounds a far-sighted and fruitful project.

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