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Girls after Heathfield

After Heathfield, I studied a BA in English Literature at Royal Holloway College, London and then an MA in British Romanticism at the University of York. I then took five years out of academia to train as a secondary school teacher of English and taught at the British School of Paris, returning to England in 1995 to study for a PhD (on Wordsworth) at Queens’ College, Cambridge which I thoroughly enjoyed. The year after I finished I was appointed as a lecturer at Lancaster University where I have been ever since, conducting research largely on Romantic poetry.

I would say that my university experiences, particularly that of my PhD, were extremely formative in relation to my chosen career, but there is also no doubt that my school experience at Heathfield set me off on the right path. I believe that a single sex education is highly beneficial to girls, not least because of having successful females managing and running the school and thus providing positive role models. I do think that this background made me more confident and self-possessed than I might otherwise have been.

I remember when I was in the Upper Sixth having a discussion with the Headmistress and she asked each of us what we would like to be in life and I said “a writer”. I always remember it because I was embarrassed to admit to it at the time, and for many years I felt I had failed to become this. But of course, I am both a writer and a reader – perhaps not in the sense I meant then but in a way I am perfectly happy with.