Frank McEachran

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Frank McEachran (1900–1975), sometimes known as Kek, was a British schoolmaster and author. He taught at English public schools and the University of Leipzig and wrote on philosophy, but his most commercially successful books were his anthologies Spells for Poets and More Spells which appeared in the 1950s.

Life[edit]

The son of an engineer from Wolverhampton,[1] McEachran was educated at Manchester Grammar School and then at Magdalen College, Oxford.[2] After taking the degrees of BA and BLitt, he began to teach at Gresham's School, Holt, in September 1924. Among the boys he influenced while there was the future poet W. H. Auden,[3] and one writer on Auden detects traces of McEachran's "humanist world-view" in Auden's poetry until it was overtaken by the existentialism of Kierkegaard in the 1940s.[4] McEachran also taught the future communist James Klugmann, and the writer Alan Bennett used him as the model for the character of the schoolmaster Hector in his play The History Boys.[5] He also taught now Salopian House Master Richard Hudson.

He was also a lecturer at the University of Leipzig[2] and a master at Shrewsbury School.[6] There he taught Martin Wainwright, who has recalled that "Frank McEachran stood us on chairs at school reciting poetry we’d learned by heart. Probably child abuse these days, but he called it Spells and I can still remember them all."[7] He is remembered in Shrewsbury School through the McEachran room in the English faculty where the student-run Creative Writing Society meets, some still influenced by his writings.

McEachran's anthology Spells (1953), later re-issued as Spells for Poets, is divided into eight parts: 'Sheer', 'Queer', 'Fear', 'Love', 'Death', 'Odd', 'God', and 'Postscript'.[8]

Selected publications[edit]

  • The Civilized Man (1930)
  • The Destiny of Europe (1932)
  • Two diaries: Greece, Russia, 1934
  • 'Henry George and Karl Marx', a paper presented at the International Conference, London, September, 1936
  • The Life and Philosophy of Johann Gottfried Herder (1939)
  • Freedom - the Only End
  • On Translating Nietzsche into English
  • Spells for Poets: an Anthology of Words and Comment (Basil Blackwell, 1955; Garnstone Press paperback edition, 1974, ISBN 0855111917, ISBN 9780855111915)
  • More Spells: a New Anthology of Words and Comment (Garnstone Press, ISBN 0900391278)
  • A Cauldron of Spells (posthumous collection, with introduction by Laurence Le Quesne; Greenbank Press, 1992)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Richard Davenport-Hines, Auden (1996), p. 39: "In his final year at the school he was impressed by a young master called Frank McEachran, an engineer's son from Wolverhampton..."
  2. ^ a b On Translating Nietzsche into English at archiveshub.ac.uk, accessed 1 May 2012
  3. ^ Katherine Bucknell & Nicholas Jenkins, W. H. Auden, The Map of All My Youth. Early Works, Friends, and Influences (Auden Studies 1, Clarendon Press, 1990, p. 117)
  4. ^ John Bridgen, 'Frank McEachran' in Bucknell & Jenkins, W. H. Auden, The Map of All My Youth. Early Works, Friends, and Influences
  5. ^ Geoff Andrews, James Klugmann, a complex communist dated 27 February 2012 at opendemocracy.net, accessed 1 May 2012.
  6. ^ 'Frank McEachran', obituary in Books and Bookmen, vol. 20 (Hanson Books, 1975), pp. 58-59
  7. ^ Listen Baroness Williams on her moral and religious beliefs at libdemvoice.org, accessed 1 May 2012
  8. ^ Frank McEachran, Spells for Poets: an Anthology of Words and Comment (Basil Blackwell, 1955; Garnstone Press paperback edition, 1974)

External links[edit]

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