The History Boys: Revision Notes

  • Created by: LukeJ27
  • Created on: 16-04-17 18:54

History Boys Revision Notes


Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett was born in 1934. After attending a grammar school in Leeds he attended Oxford University – where he read History. He was bought up into a working class family. He was taught History by a teacher who he later described as being closest to miss Lintott. He was one of eight boys in his sixth form who was encouraged by the head to try for one of the more prestigious universities (Oxbridge). After completing his Nato try for National Service, he decided to try for a scholarship to Oxford, partly from 'sheer vanity' but also because, like Posner, he'd fallen hopelessly in love with a boy who was going there. Later he came to regret the journalistic approach to history that he used, albeit successfully, to gain his place there.

The 1980's

When the educational zietgeist was undergoing massive change, prompting similar debates about the nature and purpose of education to those in the play. In addition, government began to establish a tighter control over schools, colleges and universities than ever before.

Schools/Education in the 1980s

A new system was introduced called league tables. The publication of league tables based on examination success was introduced around this time. The schools with the highest percentage of exam success was at the top. In the play the Headmaster wants his school to be one of the best therefore he encourages the boys to try for a top university so they will work harder and get better results so the school can be higher up in the tables. Headmaster "But I am thinking league tables. Open scholarships. reports to the Governors. page 8. 

Plot and Structure:

Hector is discovered to be groping the boys and is sacked. He is allowed to stay to the end of term, sharing his classes with Irwin. At the end of the play the boys get into university. Hector gives a lift to Irwin, which ends in an accident. Hector is killed and Irwin left in a wheelchair.

The play is divided into two Acts – before and after the interval. Apart from that it is divided into scenes which are not numbered. Each bullet point represents a scene.

Act 1 - scenes 1-4

  • The play opens with Irwin as a government spin-doctor, in a wheelchair.

  • We meet the eccentric Hector and his class of ‘History Boys’. They already have their A level results and are now studying for their Oxbridge entrance exams. Hector hits the boys but they regard it as a joke which suggests he does not hit very hard. It is a sign of favouritism – Dakin is happy that he has bruises to prove it.

  • The Headmaster tells Mrs Linttot that he wants the boys to go to Oxbridge to improve the school’s league table results. Hector and Mrs Linttot, in the Head’s absence, disagree with him.

  • Scripps, on playground duty, sees the young, new teacher, Irwin arrive. Irwin says he was at Corpus in Oxford. The Headmaster…




Is this taken from BBC Bitesize? Anyway, it's a great revision resource - thanks a lot! I've got a mock on Friday and am desperately trying to revise.