Exeter College JCR Suggestion Book
Exeter College is proud to announce an exciting new publication showcasing the wit and artistic talent of undergraduates in the 1950s.
The ‘Exeter College JCR Suggestion Book’ contains a series of witty dialogues and drawings by Exonians including Brian Brindley, Ned Sherrin and Russell Harty, offering a unique and vivid insight into undergraduate life in the 1950s at one of Oxford’s oldest colleges.
The publication features a foreword by Alan Bennett, on the agreement that it should not be reprinted elsewhere, thus making the book a unique edition.
Old Members John Speirs (1956, Literae Humaniores) and John Leighfield (1958, Literae Humaniores) have compiled the book, at the suggestion of former Rector Marilyn Butler.
The book can be bought through Exeter College Development Office, and is currently available at Blackwell Bookshop on Broad Street.
Commenting on the book, the Rector of Exeter College, Frances Cairncross, said: ‘this book is a work of both literary genius and scurrilous schoolboy humour. Exeter is proud of the talents of its students, and immensely grateful to the Old Members who have brought this project to fruition.’
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Notes to Editors
JCR Suggestion Book
The Junior Common Room (JCR) Suggestion Book exists for undergraduates to write comments about aspects of College life for the attention of fellow students, and in particular the annually elected JCR President. The late 1950s have become known as the ‘golden age’ of the book, as the number and content of suggestions expanded greatly, especially with the addition of drawings and cartoons.
Alan Bennett matriculated in 1954 and obtained a First Class degree in Modern History before remaining at Exeter as a graduate student and JCR President. During this time he began work on the Beyond the Fringe series with Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore and has since written and acted in a number of stage and radio works, including The Madness of King George and The History Boys.
Professor Marilyn Butler was the first woman to head a previously all-male Oxford college, becoming Rector of Exeter College in 1993. She was previously King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge, and is a Fellow of the British Academy.
Frances Cairncross became Rector of Exeter College, Oxford, in 2004. She was a senior editor at The Economist for twenty years, and chaired the Economic and Social Research Council from 2001 to 2007. She was also President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science from 2005 to 2006. She is married to the financial columnist, Hamish McRae.
The Reverend Brian Brindley was a distinguished Anglo-Catholic canon and writer. After graduating with a BA in Modern History at Exeter, Mr Brindley was ordained as a priest in 1963. He died in 2001 aged 69. A book of reminiscences, Loose Canon, was written after his death and is edited by Damian Thompson.
Edward Sherrin read Jurisprudence [Law] at Exeter from 1951 to 1954 before embarking on a distinguished career as a television writer and director. He devised and directed the popular BBC satire That Was The Week That Was, which first aired in 1962. Mr Sherrin died in 2007, aged 76.
Frederic Russell Harty was a television presenter and broadcaster. He read English at Exeter from 1954. Becoming a household name in the 1970s with his series Russell Harty Plus, he died in 1988 aged 53.
John Speirs matriculated in 1956 and read Literae Humaniores [Classics]. He became a Managing Director at one of the world’s largest aluminium products companies, holding several key positions including President of the National Society of Clean Air and Environmental Protection. Mr Speirs is now retired and has two sons and several grandchildren.
John Leighfield, CBE
John Leighfield matriculated in 1958 and read Literae Humaniores [Classics]. A distinguished IT businessman, Mr Leighfield is Chairman of RM plc, which provides information communications and technology services to educational establishments in the UK and around the world. John Leighfield was awarded a CBE in 1998 and lives in Oxford.