‘Cradle of Writers’

The splendid Dulwich College in South East London – near CSF’s boyhood home, and where Forester was educated – has its 400th anniversary this year. As part of the celebrations three of our members – Lawrie Brewer, Bryan Oates and Gordon Rankin – represented the Society at the launch of Patrick Humphries’ “Cradle of Writers”.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries A.E.W. Mason, P.G. Wodehouse, Raymond Chandler, Dennis Wheatley and C.S. Forester were all pupils here.

Those who attended the AGM in 2017 will recollect that Dulwich old boy and professional writer Patrick came to speak to us on Cecil Smith (Forester’s real name) and his time at Dulwich. Now Forester is immortalised in his book, taking his place alongside Dulwich’s other great authors.

Patrick is far from uncritical of Forester, emphasising his secretive nature and obfuscation of his background. However his essay reveals some interesting information of which I was unaware – for example, his mother was an alcoholic, and the “sexually precocious” Cecil lost his virginity at the age of thirteen.

Lawrie drove to Dulwich from Worcestershire and arrived early enough to seek out Forester’s former home in Underhill Road – it turned out to be an arduous walk of more than an hour, and he took a taxi back to the College! Fortunately there was excellent hospitality at the launch with canapes, wine and good company from staff, pupils and fellow guests.

Patrick’s book is available via the following link;



Gordon Rankin


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