Eric Ambler 1909-1998

Eric Ambler won a scholarship to Colfe’s at the age of 8. He wrote many very popular spy thrillers and on his death in 1998 bequeathed part of his library to the school.

Douglas Bell 1890-?

Bell attended Oxford after Colfe’s and then joined the foreign staff of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Company. During World War I he was an NCO with the London Rifle Brigade. He was wounded twice in 1915 and awarded the military cross. He wrote a diary: Soldier’s Diary of the Great War, which was published anonymously with a forward by Henry Williamson in 1929.

Sir John Bennett 1814-1897

Sir John attended Colfe’s with his brother, sons of John Bennett a watch and clockmaker of Greenwich. John entered Colfe’s in 1822 and was head boy in 1831. Known as one of Dr Waite’s scholars, his visitation day examination is recorded in the minutes of the Leathersellers’ Company. He became Lieutenant of the City of London and was awarded a Knighthood. He was known as rather a colourful figure.

Sir Antonio Brady 1811-1881

After Colfe’s Antonio Brady entered the Civil Service and became an Admiralty official and social reformer. A contemporary of Sir John Bennett they both returned to the school in 1881 for Visitation Day.

CJ Folkard 1878-1963

Folkard spent only a short time of Colfe’s and at school his ambition was to become a magician. However, illustration was his forte and he created the Teddy Tail cartoon strip for the Daily Mail and illustrated many children’s books. In 1987 a group of benefactors bought a series of his original drawings and prints for the school. These are displayed upstairs in the library. In 2004 a stuffed toy Teddy Tail was seen on the Antiques Roadshow and was valued at several hundred pounds!

Norman Hepple 1908-1994

Hepple attended Colfe’s in the 1920s. He became a very successful painter and member of the Royal Academy. His portrait of Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on postage stamps.

David Lindsay 1876-1945

David attended Colfe’s from 1885-1890 where he excelled at English and won the school prize. He published many novels with a sci-fi theme, which in more recent years have received a boost in popularity.

Baron John Vaizey 1929-1984

An eminent economist, Lord Vaizey was elevated to the peerage in Harold Wilson’s resignation honours list in 1976. He became a conservative in 1979.

Edward Wesson 1910-1983

Another eminent artist, Wesson attended Colfe’s from 1922-1926. He had great praise for his art teacher “Dad” Worthy. He was a contemporary of Norman Hepple and a painting of the old school hangs in the Headmaster’s corridor.

Henry Williamson 1895-1977

Henry Williamson attended Colfe’s from 1907-1913, and his first published work appeared in the school magazine – The Colfeian! After serving in the First World War he turned to writing and published a long list of titles, the most famous of which is Tarka the Otter.

Victor M Yeates 1897-1934

Yeates was a contemporary of Henry Williamson’s. Yeates’ autobiographical novel Winged Victory was published in 1934, shortly before his death from TB. Victor was a Scout Pilot in a Sopwith Camel during World War I and his authentic descriptions of wartime flying made his book something of a cult among pilots in World War II. A biography of his life has just been published.

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