PICTURES: Pupils illustrate international best-seller’s tale

Artwork by year-eight pupils has been used to illustrate the work of international best-selling author Alex Preston.

The story, Wyndham Le Strange Buys the School, was included in the annual anthology Best British Short Stories in 2016.

Andrea Tewkesbury, head of art, with the year-eight pupils whose work was selected, from left, George Bryant-Nichols, Ethan Roberts, Chloe Macklin, Jonny Townsend and Oliver Knight

Andrea Tewkesbury, head of art, with the year-eight pupils whose work was selected, from left, George Bryant-Nichols, Ethan Roberts, Chloe Macklin, Jonny Townsend and Oliver Knight

It is set at Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School, where Alex was a pupil, and the school was given permission to re-publish the story after its young artists were set the task of illustrating it.

Headmaster Stuart Douch said: “We are delighted that international best-selling author Alex Preston has given us permission to publish and illustrate his short story, Wyndham Le Strange Buys the School, which uses Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School and the aftermath of the First World War as its setting.”

The project was overseen by Andrea Tewkesbury, head of art, who allowed the children to illustrate the short story in any medium they saw fit.

Alex said the students were very gifted and passed on his thanks. He also offered to run a creative writing workshop with pupils in years seven and eight later this year.

He added: “It was 100 per cent Sompting Abbotts that I was imagining in the story. I thought the illustrations were marvellous. This is just a wondrous thing.”

Alex attended Sompting Abbotts from 1986 to 1992 and won a scholarship to Lancing College.

He said: “Sompting Abbotts was my sweet spot. What it did was to nourish a deep love of learning, particularly of English literature.

“I loved the library and it’s still the image that comes to my mind when I hear the word. I remember reading so much there that has stayed with me ever since.”

Alex is a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Kent, a book reviewer for The Guardian and appears regularly on BBC radio and television.

His first novel, This Bleeding City, was published by Faber and Faber in March 2010 and his since has been translated into 12 languages.

The second novel, The Revelations, was published in February 2012, and the third, In Love and War, was featured on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Alex’s fourth novel, met with critical acclaim was nominated as one of The Guardian Best Books of 2017.

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