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Charles Spencer talks to Richard Coles

A Very Private School

Hay Festival 2024, 

In 1972, an eight-year-old Spencer was sent to boarding school for the first time. The Earl recounts the trauma of being sent away from home. His poignant memoir and account of social history A Very Private School offers a clear-eyed, first-hand account of a culture of cruelty at the school he attended and gives insights into an antiquated boarding system. Drawing on his contemporaries’ and his own memories, he reflects on the hopelessness and abandonment he felt, the intense pain of homesickness and the appalling sense of inescapability.

Educated at Eton College and Oxford, Spencer became a historian, broadcaster and author (with four Sunday Times bestsellers, and A Very Private School being a No. 1 bestseller). He harnesses his talent for historical analysis to explore the long-lasting impact of his experiences, sharing this candid reckoning with Reverend Richard Coles, with whom he co-hosts the Rabbit Hole Detectives podcast (alongside Dr Cat Jarman).

Charles Spencer talks to Richard Coles