Stephen Fry has joined classicist and broadcaster Natalie Haynes, and Professor Mary Beard in supporting the department.
Mr. Fry said: “Colleges like Henley should be treasured for what they are doing in lighting the fire of curiosity in their students and making wider education available to them: the Ancient World has taught me more about what it is to be alive now than almost all of the so-called ‘relevant’ subjects. An enthusiastic exploration of the classics is a golden key that unlocks so much in the field of art, philosophy, literature, history, sociology, politics and the wider culture. I have noticed through life that those equipped with an understanding and appreciation of classics find it easier than most to adapt and learn in the workplace and in life”.
It was the students’ idea to approach Mr. Fry, some of them being familiar with his retelling of ancient Greek myths in his book Mythos. Several knew that it was a sixth form college which had given Mr. Fry a ‘break’ and which enabled him ultimately to get to Cambridge University. Despite being in the middle of their mock exams, the lower sixth signed and sent a letter, more in hope than expectation.
Harrison Potter, a second year Classics and Ancient History student, said: "Having studied both Ancient History and Classical Civilisation, I have developed my understanding of the ancient world in an incredibly joyful experience that has tested and rewarded me. Both subjects are extremely rare and I have thoroughly enjoyed them. With the help of my teacher I have been able to step-up my understanding of the past and gain valuable skills for my future that I will cherish. In addition to this I have so many great memories; the courses truly are unforgettable. Ancient History is the study of fascinating past societies, our knowledge of which we piece together from vast arrays of interesting sources. Classical Civilisation is the study of cultures that have a profound impact on us today and, by studying classics, you learn how ancient people felt and thought. This in turn has given me new outlooks and strengths when facing challenges in my own life”.
Anyone who would like more information about Classics and Ancient History at Henley should contact John Bennett.