In recognition of Women’s History Month this March, we think back to 2008 when OD women gathered at the School for the ‘Celebration of Dragon Women Lunch’. That day, Lady Antonia Fraser (née Pakenham) (OD 1944) was invited to speak and celebrated “why it was so wonderful to be a Dragon girl,” and has kindly agreed to the publication of the below sections of her speech.
“I was at the Dragon School for four years –till 1944, twice as long as I was at any other school incidentally – and the first thing I want to say is that I was intensely happy here. Also, since I was here for such a long time compared to my other two schools, or indeed university, the Dragon School must certainly have marked me for life, for better, as I certainly believe.
Now to what we did and why it was so wonderful to be a Dragon girl. First of all, we got all the good parts in the Shakespeare plays, faute de mieux. I played Viola, Celia and Lady Macbeth under the tender care of Bruno (J P Brown). Except that Bruno cared even more for Priscilla Hett – and made her Rosalind instead of me, explaining treacherously that Celia was the better part, which for some time I believed. However, I was no actress. The ability you needed for Bruno was to have a good memory rather than anything else –imagine a full Shakespeare play when you’re nine! But it was all terrifically exciting and gave me a lifelong passion for the theatre and Shakespeare, for which I will always be grateful to Bruno. Then there were the annual Gilbert and Sullivan’s – another lifelong passion – although here I was specifically instructed by Bruno not to sing but to look as if I was singing. Sort of Karaoke style. The point was never directly made to us girls: you can do anything a boy can do. It didn’t need making, quite frankly. We could see that for ourselves perfectly well.
So, I would say that the Dragon School equips you for life and challenge.”
Lady Antonia Fraser (OD 1944) is an award-winning historian and author. Her first fictional work was the novel ‘King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table’ published in 1954. Her breakout non-fiction work was the 1969 published ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’, winner of the JT Black Prize for biography. This May, Antonia’s most recent written work is being published: ‘The Case of the Married Woman: Caroline Norton: A 19th Century Heroine Who Wanted Justice for Women’.
We look forward to speaking to her for our ‘Author’s Corner’ feature in this year’s issue of The OD.
Featured Image: Macbeth, Summer 1942
J.Owen, M. Yeatman, P. Greenslade, P. Leslie D. Arrowsmith, M. Berger, R. Dean, G. Dunn, D. Simpson
C. Johnson, P. Greenstreet, R. Harland, C. Driver, A. Malcomson, P. Bentlif, W. Cook, H. Evans, T. May
P. Clarke, A. Kamm, P. Macdonald, Antonia Pakenham, D. Pyemont, A. Drysdale, J. Cellan-Jones, Violet Wylie, R. Cheney.
D. Powell-Price, P. Brown, M. Stokes, Gillian Watson, Lalage Mais, D. Hope, P. Chatterton, J. Milford, J. Strover [Abs. C. Gillet]