Talk:Anthony Chenevix-Trench

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I've restored most of anonymous user User:'s edits on the grounds that that the reasons stated for his/her edits are invalid and unsourced. The allegations made by Foot and others are referenced from reputable sources are. The blanket deletion of sources and categories from the article is tantamount to vandalism. As previously written, the article was balanced and well-sourced. User:'s edits amount to hagiography, placed where they are, and though much new useful information has been provided it has been placed in a section which is not appropriate. The change of "Child abuser" to another heading may be justified, but "Controversial schoolmaster" is not it. Emeraude 11:52, 22 February 2007 (UTC)


My uncle was under him at Eton, he lasted two to three months then "removed" himself, and went somewhere else. I went to Fettes after he was there, but my seniors had been subject to him. There is no doubt that C-T was a beast of the most awful sort, the problem is, there is nothing verifiable. A creature of his time and pillar of society, it would not be correct to openly destroy him with scandal. (something he was clever at avoiding) However, dispassionately, one cannot call him a child abuser, as he was never brought before the bench and convicted, and the "evidence" today would be inadmissable. A case of 'grin through gritted teeth and bear it'! Brendandh 00:47, 15 June 2007 (UTC).

Good to have an almost first-hand account. However, I think you are too kind. Read Paul Foot's articles from Private Eye at the time, which were certainly verifiable, or, better still, Richard Ingram's biography of Foot My Friend Footy which makes it quite clear that these are not mere 'allegations'. Unfortunately, I don't have my copy to hand, so I am unable to quote, but will do so in a few weeks and edit appropriately. Emeraude 21:33, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

I was at Fettes in his final two years. Whilst C-T had many failings and there was also a lot of respect for him, which became more apparent when the next Headman (with a completely different style) was in charge. What I found questionable at the time was corporal punishment for poor academic results rather than matters of discipline. I heard of older pupils who were beaten (for offences such as smoking) then offered a glass of sherry. We also must remember that corporal punishment was common in private schools at the time and still happened in some Scottish state schools in the 1970s. There is a biography of Chenevix-Trench, "Land of Lost Content" by Mark Peel ISBN 1858214009. Mark Peel was (or is?) a teacher at Fettes who arrived about 15 years after C-Ts death AlasdairW (talk) 14:52, 9 May 2010 (UTC).

Neutrality of the article - potential improvements[edit]

After I reverted an edit that appeared to me to be in breach of Wikipedia's WP:BLP policy, it has been suggested on my talk page that the article is unbalanced. I can see why this is a concern.

First, in theory ACT should be notable for his career as a whole, not just for that part of it that hit some smaller portion of the headlines well over a decade after he died. Thus this biography should deal with his career as a whole, not mostly be taken up with discussion of "corporal punishment" (which was common at the time anyway) as it is now.

Second, a topic on which I can't comment (I haven't yet read all the various "letters to the editor" etc involved) is that it's alleged that some of the material used to support the "media storm" in UK newspapers was in fact based on misrepresentations of what did or did not happen to a particular person.

Third, quite apart from whether the large quoted sections in the current article are appropriate (and how to properly summarise their material if they are not), there do seem to be some misrepresentations separate to that. So for example "Eventually, his fondness for beating boys and his drinking became so embarrassing that he was forced to resign" is not supported by the passage quoted, and is questioned elsewhere. Certainly a number of different factors were presumably involved, and even the Daily Mail review of the biography by Mark Peel suggests that corporal punishment was not central to it.

It has been pointed out that the biography of him by Mark Peel (listed on the article) would be an excellent resource for fleshing out the other aspects of the biography (and perhaps adding to the existing parts too). My local library's electronic booking system doesn't have it, and Google Books does not offer a preview of it from the UK. Amazon UK is offering it for one penny per copy, plus nearly three pounds in postage and packing, from a number of highly rated sellers. Does anyone feel like obtaining a copy? Be warned that one review describes it as a "slim" tome.

If you should order one, please confer here before adding anything further to the article. If there's enough material to expand the article 5x over its current length, it could be put on Wikipedia's Main Page - but only if it's all done within five days of when you start. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 23:08, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

I intend to read it in due course, but it won't be very soon as I haven't time at present. -- Alarics (talk) 10:34, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Demiurge states "So for example "Eventually, his fondness for beating boys and his drinking became so embarrassing that he was forced to resign" is not supported by the passage quoted,". The source is the vice-provost of Eton, Tim Card, in his official history of the school, via The Independent: "Claims that he became too ready with the lash and too fond of the bottle will be published this month in Eton Renewed, an authorised history of the school by Tim Card, its vice-provost. Mr Card writes that staff at the school were embarrassed by Chevenix-Trench's drinking and that he 'regarded corporal punishment not as a last resort, but almost as the first'. He claims the head was forced to resign eventually and that the matter was hushed up." This is clearly sourced and linked in the article.Emeraude (talk) 10:53, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

image for the article[edit]

Can we obtain a free image?

If not, do we use this one; ... or this one; ...

--Demiurge1000 (talk) 23:42, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

I think the Friends Reunited one of him in his study at Eton captures the man better. Also, if it of any interest, there is a 1967 documentary about Eton at which includes scenes of him in action. -- Alarics (talk) 10:18, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I used a slightly more traditional head-and-shoulders image under fair use, although I'm not totally satisfied with the result. The documentary was very interesting, and I may be able to cite a little from it (it mentions, inter alia, part of Chenevix-Trench's drive to improve academic standards at Eton being the abolition of a free period before lunch which boys mainly used to visit the sweet shop!) Incidentally, the part of the documentary with headmaster, prefect, and miscreant all standing formally while Chenevix-Trench muttered awkwardly about "you're old enough by now" was the same "formally witnessed ceremony" that he was later criticised for circumventing in other cases. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 12:48, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Article expanded; and neutrality template removed[edit]

Many thanks to Alarics, Emeraude and Hume for suggestions and resources in fixing and expanding this article. I've now expanded it based on Peel's book and a few other sources.

I've removed the neutrality check template as I presume it's no longer needed.

Some matters still needing attention:

  1. Lead needs fixing/expanding.
  2. Some redlinks may have valid targets if anyone can spend some time looking for them.
  3. Unit names for Chenevix-Trench's military service need fixing/clarifying; I'm waiting for further input here. Seems Peel had these basically correct; the regiment name is now a redlink and the battery name is a bluelink, with hidden comments added as to why. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 12:48, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
  4. Reference for Ludovic Kennedy review needs expanding; I'm waiting for further input here.
  5. Possibly use some press cutting images in the "Legacy" section.
  6. To make a change from my heavy use of architectural photos, perhaps use an image of cane or birch somewhere. Slight problem is that we don't seem to have any useful free ones!
  7. I've used spaced hyphens instead of spaced en dashes. Perhaps a bot or similar will fix this.
  8. Some of ref formatting could be further improved.
  9. Whatever else I've forgotten.
  10. Need to add details of his other two children. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 12:48, 27 February 2013 (UTC) Done, although it might be better to have a separate "personal life" section with marriage, children, and his family's involvement with the schools (Peel has more on this). --Demiurge1000 (talk) 19:37, 1 March 2013 (UTC)
  11. There are lots of hidden comments with further material - mainly references to Peel - that may or may not be worth adding --Demiurge1000 (talk) 12:48, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
  12. Worth seeing if there is anything that can be added from Card's book and from any histories of Shrewsbury, Bradfield or Fettes that mention him --Demiurge1000 (talk) 12:48, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Any other suggestions very welcome as always. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 07:25, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

You're right about the architecture! For a picture of a cane, see caning, but whether it's needed is another mater. Fewer pictures might not be a loss - there is no need to illustrate everything. You have done some good work here, though I feel that there is now too much detail that is not about his life so much as about the times and events he lived through (e.g. relief of Singapore, conditions on the Burma railway, regimental history) all of which are adequately covered in their respective articles. After all, C-T is famous as a teacher and infamous as a caner, not as a soldier and POW, so these need to have prominence. That's just at first glance; I'll have more time to read properly later I hope. Emeraude (talk) 09:56, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

Books likely to mention Chenevix-Trench[edit]

In addition to what's already under "Further Reading", there is;

  • Philp, Robert (1998). A Keen Wind Blows. James & James. ISBN 0-907383-85-8
  • Blackie, John (1976). Bradfield, 1850-1975.
  • Oldham, James Basil (1952). A History of Shrewsbury School, 1552-1952.
  • Morath, Adolf (1953). Portrait of Shrewsbury School.
  • Cowburn, Philip (1964). A Salopian anthology: Some impressions of Shrewsbury School during four centuries.
  • McDowell, David (2012). Carrying On: Fettes College, War and the World 1870-2010. ISBN 978-1780880327

--Demiurge1000 (talk) 13:15, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

A Keen Wind Blows has an 11 page chapter about Chenevix-Trench and Fettes 1971-79 and includes some quotations. Robert Philp taught at Fettes and was a housemaster during this time. AlasdairW (talk) 23:32, 3 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Alasdair. It would be great if you could add some information from Philp's book to the Fettes section. Or, if you prefer, you could mention here any potentially useful facts/statements/quotations from the book, and I'll then work them into the article. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 02:50, 17 March 2013 (UTC)


There is a reference to Ray Harrod. I have never heard of him but Roy Harrod was a famous tutor at Christ Church. Could this be a typo? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gobanian (talkcontribs)

Perfect, thank you - I've now fixed this in the article. I'm not sure if the typo was mine or Peel's - will check later. I've always liked that quote as it adds a bit of spice to the otherwise relatively unexciting "man offered job, takes different job instead" part of the storyline. (Though turning down a headmastership to become a housemaster is rather unusual too.) Peel includes Harrod's quite lengthy letter in full.
Now we just need to identify John G. Barrington-Ward, "one of the best Latin prose scholars in Oxford", who edited the Times crossword three days a week. Or maybe that is the right name but there's just no Wikipedia article yet? --Demiurge1000 (talk) 10:11, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Anthony Chenevix-Trench/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Sagaciousphil (talk · contribs) 14:46, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

  • I'm still pretty new at reviewing GA nominations so once I begin to finalise this review I will ask someone with more in depth experience to give it a quick double check. I apologise in advance if I make any idiotic mistakes along the way. SagaciousPhil - Chat 14:46, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
I think this an extremely interesting comprehensive article, which presents a neutral balanced view. I have made a handful of very minor edits but please check I've done them correctly and haven't managed to break anything! As already mentioned, I'm just feeling my way with GA reviews, so have noted a couple of questions below. Khazar2 has kindly said they will check over my review but is pretty busy in the real world so will get to it soon. SagaciousPhil - Chat 09:49, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

GA review – see WP:WIAGA for criteria

  1. Is it reasonably well written?
    A. Prose quality:
    B. MoS compliance for lead, layout, words to watch, fiction, and lists:
  2. Is it factually accurate and verifiable?
    A. Has an appropriate reference section:
    B. Citation to reliable sources where necessary:
    There is one dead link showing up (ref #53) but my interpretation is that this is acceptable as a hard copy would be available.
    Main source (Peel, 1996) is from a vanity publisher which went bust in 2002 owing £260,000. The book is not available on Amazon, nor in my public library. This makes verifiablity something of a problem! Emeraude (talk) 08:46, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
    Emeraude raises an important point here; I don't believe that a book from a vanity publisher can be considered a reliable source even if a hard copy was located to verify the citations (which isn't necessary). Given the article's heavy reliance on this book, this might be a dealbreaker for GA status. Is the author widely cited by scholars as an expert in the field? That might make this an RS, even if he's self-publishing. Good catch--I wouldn't have thought to check that. -- Khazar2 (talk) 16:38, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
    I don't think Peel's book counts as self-published. The author's previous book, also a biography of an Englishman, won a Daily Telegraph award. The book cited is indeed available on Amazon - for the princely sum of one penny. My copy was previously held by a county library in Wales, so it was clearly rather widely purchased, not just a vanity publication. It received full-page reviews in multiple national newspapers. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 18:10, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
    The question doesn't really boil down to Amazon availability or library holdings, unfortunately, so much as whether Pentland Press has "a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy". The press's reputation as a vanity press and their subsequent collapse suggests to me that this may not have had serious editorial oversight.[1] Tell you what, though, I'll post at WP:RS/N and just get a quick opinion there. -- Khazar2 (talk) 18:21, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
    That link is an opinion blog of the wrong sort of tabloid newspaper, so not a great source itself :) --Demiurge1000 (talk) 18:30, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
    A simple Google search turns up plenty of other sources, but of course I'm willing to look at any sources you have indicating that they're not a vanity publisher. [2] [3] [4], [5] [6] [7] The Mirror's coverage of Pentland is also listed in research databases like Highbeam and Questia. It seems fair to say that they at least have a strong reputation as a vanity publisher. Anyway, you can find the relevant discussion at Wikipedia:RS/N#Vanity_press_publication_okay.3F -- Khazar2 (talk) 18:37, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
    Thanks for the input on this, it had never occurred to me the book might not be considered a reliable source, especially as it appeared to attract a lot of publicity and reviews. It does appear to be available at a number of UK libraries (according to WorldCat). SagaciousPhil - Chat 08:18, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
    C. No original research:
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. Major aspects:
    • The subject is certainly comprehensively covered - I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this (and this doesn't really apply for GA) but after reading the article, I was left wondering: What did he die of? Also, in the last paragraph of the 'Education' section, it reads: "At Christ Church CT would win further academic prizes.....but not the ones he most wanted" What were the ones he wanted?
    I've added a few extra words about his death, which I agree was covered a little too quickly. The reality is that he either died of alcoholism, or of the ongoing effects of illnesses contracted while suffering as a slave labourer for the Japanese, or of just being tired of being tired. Or all three. Peel describes the 2nd February 1978 haemorrhage as "resulting from his wartime experiences", but goes on to quote a conversation apparently months later where Chenevix-Trench said "The doctor says I should give up whiskey. I've taken a considered view. The quality of life is more important than the quantity." Peel also mentions sources who say that Chenevix-Trench was "a shadow of his former self", and didn't appear to perceive much joy in life if he wasn't still teaching. As for his time at Oxford, the prize he was most after in his first two years was the Hertford Prize for classics (mentioned in passing later in the same paragraph); it seems still to be in operation now, or in 2008 anyway. Seven hundred pounds in 2008; probably less pounds but more value in the 1930s. I vaguely remember some taking the view that Chenevix-Trench was a little too obsessed with winning prizes while there. However, it's worth mentioning that some of Chenevix-Trench's reforming zeal at places like Eton was, according to sources, a result of an awareness on his part that his successes in life, with originally nothing more than a respectable middle class background, were partly thanks to the scholarship that had allowed him to study at Oxford in the 1930s. The caption to the quad photograph hints slightly at the possibility that without the scholarship, he wouldn't have been able to attend at all. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 18:34, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for including the additional material about his cause of death. SagaciousPhil - Chat 08:18, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
  1. B. Focused:
Too "broad", to the extent that is practically hagiographic. Consider why this article exists; what makes him notable? Being a teacher? Hardly. Being a public school headteacher? Possibly, but unlikely. Being a Japanese POW? No. Being an alcoholic child abuser who held major positions in public schools where he indulged his abuse? Well, yes, and most of the rest is of no great significance. This article has been clearly edited in recent weeks with the stated aim of getting this good article label; fair enough. But, unfortunately, this has been done by a clearly sympathetic editor using as a source a book which is also blatantly sympathetic (and unavailable). As such, the article is now unbalanced and includes far too much on historical events in which he played no personal part other than being there. Emeraude (talk) 07:49, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your input, Emeraude. A GA review is very subjective, so different editors may very well view matters differently. I feel the article gave complete coverage of the subjects life, managing to adhere to the BLP policy of avoiding giving undue weight to controversy yet including it in a balanced manner. SagaciousPhil - Chat 08:18, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
  1. Is it neutral?
    Fair representation without bias:
    I think an impressively balanced portrayal has been given.
  2. Is it stable?
    No edit wars, etc:
  3. Does it contain images to illustrate the topic?
    A. Images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content:
    A small query, which again is simply a reflection of my lack of knowledge: Loretto School, Peckwater Quad, Shrewsbury School, Bradfield College and Fettes College images are Creative Commons licenses - are these OK or do they also require PD licenses?
    I'll defer to anyone with greater insight or interest in image licenses than I have, but my understanding is that Creative Commons licenses (that allow commercial use) are at least "as good as" "public domain" licenses. In all these cases I'm merely re-using existing Commons images that have been there for a long time and where I'm not aware of any challenge to the copyright status of those images on that project. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 18:39, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
    Yep, the CC tags are fine. -- Khazar2 (talk) 16:42, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for confirming that Khazar2 - I'll keep a note that CC tags are fine. SagaciousPhil - Chat 08:18, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
  1. B. Images are provided if possible and are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions:
  2. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:

Reliable source issue[edit]

To avoid the threaded conversation above getting overstuffed, I'm opening discussion of the reliable source issue here. Quoted below is a response from WP:RS/N:

"It is clearly a vanity press. If the subject were a living person, WP:BLPSPS would absolutely bar use of this source. Since the subject is dead, WP:SPS applies. The author is not writing about himself, so that exception doesn't apply. We are left with (i) is the author a recognized expert in the field; and (ii) has the author previously been published by reliable, independent sources within the relevant scope of that expertise. It looks to me that the author has written a few books about food and about Australia, and handful of biographies, most of little note. This particular biography, as you note, appears to be highly controversial, and to have little or no acceptance as authoritative. I don't think this comes close to passing the requirements of SPS, and should not be used at all as a source, let alone be relied upon almost exclusively for content in an article. (I'd note in passing that this article also uses as a source, which has been extensively discussed at RSN and is clearly not a RS, as well as several letters to the editor, none of which are reliable sources) If this passes GA with this kind of sourcing, there is something seriously wrong with GA. Fladrif (talk) 18:54, 22 April 2013 (UTC)"

I don't think the peerage citations are necessarily an issue here; as they source only noncontroversial claims, the citations could simply be removed without a problem. I would recommend that the letters to the editor be cut. But Peel is relied on so heavily that the article will need to be largely rewritten. For that reason I'd personally recommend that the article not be listed at this time, so that this issue can be addressed outside the time constraints of a GA review. But the final call is Phil's, and it's always possible that there's an angle to this I'm not seeing (there may be more responses at RS/N, too). Just my two cents. Thanks everybody for their work on this article! -- Khazar2 (talk) 19:06, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

I propose to put this GA on hold for seven days to see if more debate is forthcoming on the RS noticeboard but, regretfully, it may well be the case that I will have to bow to the consensus about the reliability of the main source presently given above. SagaciousPhil - Chat 08:18, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
The query has now been archived on the RS noticeboard with little further response, so regretfully I feel I have no alternative except to close this nomination as failing to meet the GA criteria due to sourcing issues. I sincerely hope that in the future other sources may be found as it is a comprehensive article. SagaciousPhil - Chat 09:39, 29 April 2013 (UTC)


'Hume Shawcross... recollected that Caspar Fleming, son of Ian Fleming, "was in no way unfairly treated by Chenevix-Trench and held no antagonism towards him", and opined that claims to the contrary were part of a "mean-minded vendetta".

Vendetta conducted by whom? Valetude (talk) 11:13, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
All of Shawcross' published comments refer to sometime staff members of Private Eye, in particular Paul Foot (who, like Shawcross, had been taught by Chenevix-Trench, but at Shrewsbury not Eton). The comment about a "vendetta" was in reply to Richard Ingrams, but I can't recall whether it suggested that Ingrams, Foot or both were engaged in a vendetta. I'll add a note here when I find the exact wording. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 18:14, 26 July 2014 (UTC)