London Connections

Caroline Gladstone, Jennifer Anderson, and Liz Gray

I am privileged to have family connections in London. My wife’s birth mother lives here; she welcomes us in, feeds us, schedules shows for us, schools us in all things British, and most of all makes this a loving place to be. Her sister, Jennifer Anderson, a former headmistress of the Francis Holland School, a girls’ school in London, lives nearby. She is an authority on Dante and has led multiple trips to a number of places in Italy. She also knows Latin and is currently taking a course that is reading the Aeneid. The course is taught by another former headmistress, Isabel Raphael, this time of the Channing Girls’ School. Jennifer recognizes and appreciates my love of ancient history, literature, and languages, and it was she who arranged for me to meet her friend and Latin teacher, classicist Isabel Raphael.

Meeting Isabel was exhilarating. We talked about the current state of Latin pedagogy, about what she sees as the success of the Cambridge Latin Series, about teaching girls, about the collegiality so necessary in teaching, and about specific authors and texts. She told me her current “retired” schedule. She teaches a number of classes to adults, all people who very much want to be there. She has cleverly offered classes to interested people, and they love them. When I told her that I planned to make a return visit to the Hellenic Book Service store right around the corner from where we were, she lit up and told me to look for the owner, Monica Williams, and some specific texts. Last time I was in London, I found some treasured used books at this store, and I was looking forward to combing the shelves again.

Unfortunately, it was the end of our trip, and funds were getting low.  We also could only carry a small number of books back with us.  Otherwise, I would have bought out the entire store! In their new location, on the main floor, you can find new Latin and Greek books on a multitude of topics and for a wide range of ages. I didn’t have any time for this floor, as I immediately headed downstairs to the shelves of used books. Here you can find centuries-old textbooks, and it is absolutely fascinating to watch how cyclical the dialogue on methodology is. Often when I talk to people, they wonder why I would want something so old, when so much has changed over time. But the changes follow a cycle: grammar/translation to reading to direct method and around and around again. I bought more than I could carry, had a great time talking to Monica, and promised her that I would tell everyone about her fabulous store. I look forward to my next visit to London; I’ll be taking an extra suitcase with me.

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