Alexander Waugh

An Unrepentant Englishman: The Life of S P B Mais, Ambassador of the Countryside

An Unrepentant Englishman: The Life of S P B Mais, Ambassador of the Countryside


King’s Lynn Press 240pp £7.99 order from our bookshop

In researching material for my book on the Waughs, Fathers and Sons, I came across the obscure name of S P B Mais many times, for over a long lifespan S P B had, at various junctures, earned his keep as novelist, broadcaster, gossip columnist and schoolteacher, and it was in connection with three of these four professions that he came into close contact with members of my family.

As a schoolboy at Sherborne from 1911 to 1915, my great-uncle, Alec Waugh, revered S P B above all the other masters. In his memoir The Early Years of Alec Waugh he recalled the new teacher’s arrival at the school in the winter term of 1913: ‘He talked at the top of his voice. He was breathlessly alive. He hit Sherborne like a whirlwind. Anything he taught became dramatic.’ Still in his twenties, S P B delivered classes on poetry and literature with extraordinary gusto, inspiring his pupils with lessons on the personalities of poets, encouraging debates on ‘Byron v Wordsworth’ and dishing out marks by the thousand so that even the most average boy could boast to his parents at the end of the year that he had amassed more than ten million marks for English. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,