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From Darth Vader actor to WH Auden, Norfolk school has educated them all

PUBLISHED: 16:12 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:12 03 September 2018

WH Auden playing Caliban in The Tempest at the Gresham'’s outdoor theatre, 1924. Picture: supplied by Gresham's, photographer unknown.

WH Auden playing Caliban in The Tempest at the Gresham'’s outdoor theatre, 1924. Picture: supplied by Gresham's, photographer unknown.

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A special exhibition celebrates the contributions that students at one of Norfolk’s most famous public schools have made in the field of design, engineering and the arts in the 20th century.

Kit Nicholson Studio for Augustus John (architect Kit Nicholson, Ben Nicholson'’s brother, designed this mmodernist house in 1934. ©Dell & Wainwright/RIBAKit Nicholson Studio for Augustus John (architect Kit Nicholson, Ben Nicholson'’s brother, designed this mmodernist house in 1934. ©Dell & Wainwright/RIBA

Gresham’s School in Holt, which dates back to 1555, has a tradition of producing outstanding achievers in all walks of life.

Former alumni include inventor James Dyson, who has contributed an essay to the booklet being published alongside the exhibition, poet WH Auden and acress Olivia Colman, among many others.

And work on show will include early vacuums designed by Mr Dyson, W H Auden’s The Liberal Fascist, a 1934 original manuscript about his thoughts on education at Gresham’s, and actress Olivia Colman’s Golden Globe statuette.

The spy and Russian agent Donald Maclean was also at the school, along with a number of other spies.

Humphrey Spender, Bolton Market 1937, vintage photograph from Worktown People.Humphrey Spender, Bolton Market 1937, vintage photograph from Worktown People.

Gresham’s headmaster Douglas Robb said: “We believe this celebration of some of our greatest alumni will inspire future generations to come to study and thrive here.”

Works from prominent Greshamians - poet Stephen Spender and his artist/photographer brother Humphrey, artist Ben Nicholson, composer Benjamin Britten and Gerald Holtom, the artist who created the famous symbol of international peace, will also be on display.

These will be alongside film excerpts from Nigel Dick, the musician and writer who famously directed the Britney Spears video Baby One More Time.

The school also educated Christopher Cockerell, who invented the hovercraft, and Frank Perkins, who developed the diesel engine, and more than 15 key artworks by Ben Nicholson are also on show.

In the world of journalism and broadcasting the school boasts the BBC’s first director general, Lord Reith, and newspaper editors Harry Hodgson (the Sunday Times) and Alistair Hetherington (the Guardian).

Film and Stage luminaries include theatre director Peter Brook, film directors Stephen Frears and Julian Jarrold, Shakespearian actor Sebastian Shaw, later Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, and actor Miranda Raison. Olivia Colman attended the school from 1990-92.

In addition to the free exhibition, which runs from September 29 to October 14, there are free talks looking at the contribution that some of the former Greshamians have made,

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