Tony Parsons opens Hampstead library

Susanna Wilkey A SMALL independent school in Hampstead is bucking the recession and celebrating its 125th anniversary this month with a new library for the pupils. St Margaret s School in Kidderpore Avenue welcomed bestselling Hampstead author Tony Parson

Susanna Wilkey

A SMALL independent school in Hampstead is bucking the recession and celebrating its 125th anniversary this month with a new library for the pupils.

St Margaret's School in Kidderpore Avenue welcomed bestselling Hampstead author Tony Parsons to open its new library, which will provide pupils with a refuge where they can curl up with a book.

It differs from normal school libraries in that it is almost entirely stocked with fiction, much of which has been donated by parents.


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Principal Mark Webster said: "Modern girls instinctively refer to the internet for up-to-date research, so we felt we were better off training and equipping them with the tools to do so effectively.

"The aim of our library is to instil a lifelong love of reading for pleasure.

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"Though there are myriad alternative sources of entertainment for the 21st century girl, there is something irreplaceable about curling up on the sofa with a good book.

"It aims to be a comfortable return to the libraries I had as a child where you cherish reading.

"Most of the books are fiction and we have the standard school reading list but we also have a lot of books donated by parents. They were asked to give one of their favourite books and write a foreword about why they like it so much for the children."

The school has had a good year, bucking the recession with a 21 per cent increase in numbers and topping the Sunday Times list for Best Small Independent School.

Mr Webster said: "We are very proud of our history. It has always been a small school but we have grown quite a lot this year which is fantastic but we also feel it is really important to preserve the character of the school.

"It has been a great year in terms of our anniversary and topping the small schools league table which has had a big impact in terms of people coming into the school.

"We have looked back to the things that we stand for that emerged all those years ago so it has been a celebration but also looking back at our roots.

"We are also launching for the girls '125 things to do before you leave St Margaret's' which include milking a cow and seeing Shakespeare at The Globe."

Former pupils at the school include novelist Daphne Du Maurier and the daughter of actress Elizabeth Taylor.

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