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Alan Bennett: Playwright returns to Leeds school VIDEO

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  • by Jonathan Brown
 

One of Leeds’s most famous sons has been honoured by the school he left nearly 60 years ago.

Armley-born playwright Alan Bennett dropped in at Lawnswood School, in Otley Road, Lawnswood, to unveil a plaque that named their library after him.

The History Boys writer spoke of his delight at the honour, while re-iterating his statement on the closing of public libraries as being “child abuse”.

The 77-year-old told the YEP: “I am happy and very glad to be able to do this particularly at a time when libraries are under threat.

“They read books in different ways now and I still read proper books, I don’t read Kindle because aesthetically I prefer it. It doesn’t matter how you read as long as you do read.”

Bennett attended the school from 1946 to 1952, although it was then known as Leeds Modern School, and developed a fondness for its old library.

When asked if he stood by his statement that the closure of public libraries was “child abuse”, he said: “I was taken to task and ridiculed for it.

“It is just absurd that people have taken it in a literal fashion, it obviously means damaging a child and hindering it.”

While at the school Bennett, famously a butcher’s son, performed a typically captivating reading about his own experiences of libraries.

He said that like some groups in Leeds, his local library, in Primrose Hill, London, has been given a stay of execution and people are now rallying to run it as a community asset.

And of the comparison between his own state-funded education and the cuts of today, he said: “Things are falling away from that, it seems to me the reverse of progress. It was a golden age but I suppose we didn’t know that then.”

Will Carr, deputy head of Lawnswood School, said: “Kids have been asking about it, as a lot of plaques have gone up around school and some students know who Alan is and some don’t.

“They say ‘why is it the Alan Bennett Library? Is he like Shakespeare?’ So I said ‘yes, pretty much’.”

He added that the school, which entered special measures in 2009, is now enjoying better times and Bennett’s affiliation with it gives students “the confidence to achieve”.

 

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