College Blog

Inspiring a love of reading and writing

17 Jan 2018

Claire Greenwood joined EIC as Head of English in January 2018 with over twenty years experience teaching in independent day schools, boarding schools, state sixth form colleges, Further Education, at university level and independent sixth form colleges; most recently Director of Studies and Head of UCAS at Mander Portman Woodward. She has a first class higher degree from Cambridge University, BA (hons) in English and Drama, is a Fulbright scholar and has a MA degree in English and American Literature.

In her first blog for the College, she would like to give the EIC community some suggestions on novels to either experience for the first time or revisit forgotten favourites:

On a mission to inspire a love of reading and writing 

It is my absolute pleasure to join EIC in the role of Head of English; I'm very grateful to have already been made extremely welcome by staff and students alike. As well as helping students achieve their target grades this summer in English Language and Literature, I hope very much to inspire a love of reading and writing - this has been my lifelong mission in Education! I find many students are unsure where to start when it comes to novels or have been intimidated in the past by texts they found daunting. So, I thought in my first blog, I would give the EIC community some suggestions of fantastic novels to either experience for the first time or revisit forgotten favourites.

So where better place to start than with a little controversy: Vladimir Nabokov's sensational novel 'Lolita' was initially banned and continues to spark debate all over the world in terms of its dark subject matter, but what I'd like to draw your attention to is the beautifully written prose, insightfully drawn characters and Nabokov's wicked ability to satirise. If it's drama you're looking for, then you'll find no shortage in Emily Bronte's classic novel 'Wuthering Heights' - I dare you not to cry at the end. If you're looking for some teenage angst, why not take a look at J.D. Salinger's 'Catcher in the Rye' or Sylvia Plath's intensely emotional rite of passage novel 'The Bell Jar'? Both narrators capture those late teenage years so often characterised by confusion and uncertainty in making one's way in the world. Finally, I couldn't possibly even breathe the word 'novel' without a surreptitious doffing of my cap to arguably one of the greatest novelists of all time - the inimitable Charles Dickens. I dragged my eleven year old daughter (with the bribe of supper at Pizza Express) around his home in Doughty Street last summer, but I'm sure you'd be a more willing attendee as it really is incredible to see the first drafts of some of his novels and the bureau where he wrote his masterpieces.  It's hard to choose one, but   there can surely be no Dickens novel more enchanting than 'Great Expectations' with its cast of extraordinary eccentrics such as the embittered old spinster Miss Havisham, the coolly aloof Estella, the terrifying Magwitch, but most of all the beautifully sensitive and vulnerable Pip; my favourite of all Dickens' protagonists.

So why not cast away Snapchat for a while and lose yourself in some great writing? It may even inspire you to pen Waterstones' next number one bestseller!


Claire Greenwood

Head of English

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