School welcomes famous former student for classes

Year-seven and year-eight pupils enjoyed a creative writing masterclass from award-winning writer Alex Preston.

Novelist Alex Preston meets Sompting Abbotts' principal Patricia Sinclair again after 25 years
Novelist Alex Preston meets Sompting Abbotts' principal Patricia Sinclair again after 25 years

Sompting Abbotts Prep School, in Church Lane, Sompting, welcomed back the former pupil 25 years after he left.

Alex, now a senior lecturer at the University of Kent, said: “I was moved and delighted to be back. I wanted to give the students a taste of what studying creative writing at university might be like and so I delivered them a brief lecture on the building blocks of good prose – how to come up with ideas, how to build character, how to shape plot.”

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The students responded brilliantly to the material, he said, coming up with superb examples of their own.

Alex Preston giving his masterclass to year-eight pupils

Ethan, a year-eight pupil, said: “It’s not every day you get to meet a famous author. It was very informative and I hope it will help my creative writing skills.”

The visit followed pupils illustrating Alex’s short story, Wyndham Le Strange Buys the School, which uses Sompting Abbotts as the setting.

Stuart Douch, head teacher, said: “It was invigorating and enthusing for us to meet an old Abbottonian who is creating great literature and inspiring others to express themselves with the written word.”

Alex toured the school and sat down to lunch with staff and pupils in the dining room where he used to eat as a young boy.

Author Alex Preston with Sompting Abbotts headmaster Stuart Douch

Alex said: “You only need to walk around Sompting Abbotts to know that this is a special place, from the quality of books on the many shelves, and in students’ hands, to the atmosphere of intellectual endeavour and cheerful spirits that wafts about the place.”

The author’s first novel, This Bleeding City, won the Spear’s Best First Novel Prize and the Edinburgh International Book Festival Readers’ First Book Award.