Until his retirement in 2011, Dr Martin Stephen was High Master of St Paul's School, and before that of Manchester Grammar School, two of the most academically successful independent schools in the world, bar none. As such, he is uniquely placed to write a study of that extraordinary phenomenon, the English public school, institutions that are as admired in some quarters as they are despised and vilified in others.
His book, however, is no hagiography, and pulls no punches when it comes to the author's views on the failings of private educational establishments, while also showing that their benefits can be, and increasingly are, harnessed for a much wider good. His own long and influential experience within that world allows him to expose a world that is rarely less than baffling to outside observers, and frequently reviled; his often scathing and satirical view of public schools make his book a must read for anyone who is thinking of putting little Tarquin down for Eton or, conversely, for anyone who would like to see the places razed and their ruins sown with salt. But, as the author writes, 'If you are English and reading this now, a public school boy or girl is influencing your life.'
'A fascinating and important book which explains how public schools have become some of the most successful schools in the world' - Lord Baker of Dorking, former Secretary of State for Education
'Martin Stephen cannot write a boring line. By turns utterly horrifying and hilariously funny, [his book] is also academically fascinating, and . . . a rip-roaring good read' - Jilly Cooper