Little Apple Press Review of Great Lives:
York owes a lot to the Quaker community who have called it home for a very long time. As Bootham School approaches its bicentenary (in 2023), this book provides a vivid account of some of its great past scholars.
Many went on to not only excel in their field but to enrich the lives of people through the country and abroad: Horace Gundry Alexander, for example, became a friend to Gandhi.
Included here are a host of palaeontologists, botanists and pharmacologists, several of whom went on to be members of the Royal Society, as the school has always encouraged the natural sciences and still holds an impressive archive from past pupils. One illustration in the book that I particularly liked was Richard Hopper Stretch’s youthful depiction of butterflies.
Along with scientists, there are the historians, famously AJP Taylor, members of Parliament and even a famous comedian, Brian Rix.
The alumni who made arguably the biggest impact on society must be the Rowntree family: Joseph Rowntree and Seebohm Rowntree were both educated here.
The book also gives an illuminating history of the school itself: it wasn’t actually called Bootham School until very recently, having begun on Lawrence Street as the Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting Boys School. It moved from Lawrence Street because of health concerns caused by the nearby Foss Island Swamps.
This is a great book for anyone interested in York’s illustrious history and gives a great insight into the Quaker ethos, explaining the foundations of “God in every man” and the twin beliefs of the sacredness of human life and the acceptance of universal equality.
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