Colfe’s is proud of it’s history – and it’s alumni. Here’s just a few of our most notable Colfeians:
Eric Ambler 1909-1998
Eric Ambler won a scholarship to Colfe’s at the age of 8. He wrote many very popular spy thrillers, among them The Mask of Dimitrios, 1939, and The Light of Day, 1962. On his death in 1998 he bequeathed part of his library to the school.
Douglas Bell 1890-1964
Douglas 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 in 1929 with a foreword by Henry Williamson (see below).
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
CJ 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
Norman Hepple attended Colfe’s in the 1920s. He became a very successful painter, a member of the Royal Academy and President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. His portrait of Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on postage stamps.
David Lindsay 1876-1945
David Lindsay 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. A Voyage to Arcturus (1920) was praised by JRR Tolkien.
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, Edward 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
Victor Yeates was a contemporary of Henry Williamson. His autobiographical novel Winged Victory was published in 1934, shortly before his death from TB. He 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.