The Enigma of Kidson
The Portrait of an Eton Schoolmaster
"A great read about a great man" - Taki, The Spectator
The Enigma of Kidson is a moving, thought-provoking, inspiring and hilarious biography of an inspirational and controversial teacher
Move over Mr Chips! Michael Kidson had everything that central casting requires of a legendary schoolmaster: a passion for his subject, a brilliant didactic style, a silly walk, a smelly spaniel, breath-taking rudeness, eccentric mannerisms and catchphrases, a maverick attitude towards authority, and above all, a deep empathy, loyalty and dedication towards his boys.
He had an extraordinary influence on his pupils: David Cameron, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Johnnie Boden, Nicky Henderson, Sir Matthew Pinsent, Lupin and Dominic West among them.
'I didnt expect to be moved to tears by a tribute book to an Etonian schoolmaster. But the story of Michael Kidson (1929-2015) drew me in and moved me deeply' - Ysenda Maxtone Graham, The Oldie
This unique portrait features recollections and vignettes of incidents in the classroom and the tutorial. As Kidson was an inspirational History Beak (master), history is a strong theme throughout the book and through Kidson's life story we get a vivid social history of the latter part of the twentieth century, where the themes of education, culture, teaching, adolescence, discipline, mentorship, pronunciation, parenting, redemption and old age are all examined.
Reviews for The Enigma of Kidson
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the abiding assets of Great Britain are two: eccentricity and humour… For devotees of the form, one of the most priceless documents to appear in recent years is a little-known work, available on Amazon, entitled The Enigma of Kidson, a largely oral biography of a strange-gaited man who taught history at Eton for 29 years, from the time of Harold Wilson to that of John Major. As the U.K. remains convulsed in debates over whether such “bastions of privilege” should be abolished, the book offers a rare glimpse into what is at stake.
Pico Iyer, Air Mail
Michael Kidson was a wonderful eccentric and an inspiring teacher. Reading this book brought back many happy memories.
With a light touch but penetrating perception, Jamie Blackett has written the story of a maverick: of a man who could be quirky, unbelievably rude, unbelievably funny and an inspiration to all those boys who were up to him as their personal tutor or “Modern Tutor” in Eton parlance.
Vicky Jardine Paterson , Dumfries and Galloway Life
A celebration of the maverick but utterly inspiring Eton master who taught everyone from Cameron to the Archbishop of Canterbury… We all need mentors in life and for many of us that was Michael. It is almost impossible to fix a comma into a sentence, or frame an insult, or pronounce a word without him hovering at the back of our minds: pernickety things like that mask the bigger truth, that he was a rock to us all.
This portrait of Kidson and Eton serves as a reminder of the maverick, growling, pedantic, irascible madness of so many extraordinary teachers. A delight to read and a fitting testament.
Alexandra Henton , The Field