Sompting Abbotts pupils chosen to illustrate best-selling author's work

Artwork by Year 8 pupils at Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School near Steyning has been chosen to illustrate international best-selling author Alex Preston's work. Alex Preston is an alumni of the historic school.

[body] Year 8 pupils at Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School have completed an art project to illustrate the work of the novelist Alex Preston, a former pupil at the historic school.

"We are delighted that author Alex Preston has given us permission to illustrate his poignant short story, Wyndham Le Strange Buys the School," said Headmaster Stuart Douch. "And all the more so as Alex's memories of the school gave rise to the work itself."

The story uses the Neo-Gothic Sompting Abbotts school and the aftermath of the First World War as its backdrop. It was included in the nation's favourite annual guide to the short story: Best British Short Stories.

"It was 100% Sompting Abbotts that I was imagining in the story," said Alex Preston
The pupils' work was overseen by the school's Head of Art Andrea Tewkesbury and can be viewed on the school website

The school wanted to make a link between the work of Alex, as a former pupil of Sompting Abbotts, with that of the present pupils. Andrea Tewkesbury invited children in Year 8 to illustrate the short story in whatever medium they saw fit.
Alex was delighted with the students' artwork. "This is just a wondrous thing. Thank you so much," he said. "I thought the illustrations were marvellous. Do pass on my thanks to your very gifted students."

As a gesture of thanks, Alex Preston has offered to run a creative writing workshop with the school's Year 7 and Year 8 pupils later this year.

Alex Preston attended Sompting Abbotts from 1986 to 1992, and won a scholarship to Lancing College. He said: “Sompting Abbotts was my sweet spot. What it did was to nourish a deep love of learning, particularly of English literature. I loved the library and it’s still the image that comes to my mind when I hear the word. I remember reading so much there that has stayed with me ever since.”

Alex Preston is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent. He's also a journalist and appears regularly on BBC Radio and television.

His first novel, This Bleeding City, was published by Faber and Faber in March 2010. The novel won the Spear's Best First Novel Prize, the Edinburgh International Book Festival Readers' First Book Award, and was chosen as one of Waterstone's New Voices 2010. It has been translated into 12 languages. His second novel, The Revelations, was published in February 2012, while his third, In Love and War, was featured on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime. His fourth, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, met with critical acclaim and was described by The Guardian as "a sumptuous labour of love", and nominated one of The Guardian Best Books of 2017.

The renowned literary scholar and critic Charles May reviewed Wyndham Le Strange Buys the School in 2016 and described it as "one of his favourite short stories ever".

Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School is an independent school near Worthing and Steyning that welcomes children aged 2-13. It is set amidst 30 acres of grounds in the South Downs National Park. Tel: 01903 235960.

Email: Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School, Church Lane, West Sussex, BN15 OAZ.
For press enquiries contact Sarah Monaghan: Tel: 07905916610
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