LOMOND School will host the launch this Tuesday of a much-anticipated novel written by Helensburgh author and school parent Polly Clark.
'Larchfield' was inspired by the short time the poet W.H. Auden spent as a teacher at Larchfield – one of Lomond School's predecessors, along with St Bride's School – and intertwines the story of Auden's life in Helensburgh with that of Dora Fielding, a fictional modern-day poet also beginning a new life in the town.
The book will be launched on Tuesday, March 21 at the school's St Bride's Hall at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.
The school's principal, Johanna Urquhart, said: “I felt very privileged to have been given an advance copy of Larchfield from Polly last term, and was both excited and honoured when she asked if Lomond would host its launch.
“This fictionalised account of one of Helensburgh’s most lauded former residents, W.H. Auden, is already making waves in literary circles.”
A leading writer both of his time and generations since, Auden received the Pulitzer Prize in 1948, and remains a much-admired figure in Lomond School's story.
'Larchfield' has attracted glowing reviews from some notable literary figures, including Louis de Bernieres, author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, who described it as “ a mysterious, wondrous, captivating book”.
Ms Urquhart said: “I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree with this. This is not a typical summer holiday read; however, it is beautifully written and deals sensitively and effectively with some uncomfortable themes such as the way society often shuns those who are a little ‘different’.
“Auden lived in a time unaccepting and intolerant of his sexuality, and he taught in a time when there were not the same structures in place to care for our children’s emotional and physical wellbeing alongside their academic success.
“I feel so fortunate to be working in education today, where the values of tolerance and respect, as well as the importance of our young people’s wellbeing, is at the forefront of all that we do at Lomond School.
“The central character, Dora, struggles increasingly due to her deteriorating mental health. Again, this is pertinent to our lives today, as it is only very recently that society has started to accept and understand the effects of mental health and equate them with physical health.
“Attitudes are changing; 'Larchfield' really does capture the importance of this issue, and forces us to reflect on how we view mental health both individually and as a society.
“Like many schools across the UK, Lomond School is embedding support mechanisms and curricular structures to ensure that all of our young people stay healthy both mentally and physically.”
The publication and launch of 'Larchfield' is particularly fitting and timely as Lomond approaches its 40th anniversary year.
Current pupils at the school have been asked to track down former pupils from throughout the ages, with the aim of creating an exhibition celebrating Lomond's history, from St Bride's and Larchfield schools through to the present day.
Ms Urquhart added: “As part of our 40th year celebrations we wish to contact as many former pupils and staff as we can.
“Information and photographs relating to any year would be gratefully received and we would love to hear about your experiences, and those of relatives and friends with past connections to the schools.”
If you are a former pupil of St Bride's, Larchfield or Lomond School and would like to stay in touch or find out more about upcoming alumni events please contact Mrs Liz Wylie on: firstname.lastname@example.org.