On a blog, the first post you read is the latest one posted. To read the diaries from first post to last, please use the archive, starting May 28. The Diary is copyright.

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Sunday, 21 November 2010


Hubert Dunford Barnes (1900-1984), Headmaster of the Grammar School, Henley-on-Thames from 1934 to 1957, started a diary on May 28, 1940, when the conquest of Britain by Hitler's Germany appeared imminent, and kept it regularly until 1980. This blog will publish the diaries for 1940-1958, the Henley years, in instalments over the next few months.

I let the diary tell the story of the man, his times, his quest for happiness. The diary begins on a high note with the events of the first 12 months of the war, but the diarist himself was to note later that in the war year diaries there was too much war and not enough social comment. After the war there is more social comment and they also become more personal.

Hubert Barnes was the son of John Barnes, manager of a branch bank in Walthamstow, and Florence, née Atkins, daughter of the Rector of Hatford (near Abingdon). He was educated at Forest School, Walthamstow, and Keble College, Oxford, where he gained a first class degree in history. He married Nora Tydeman (1898-1982), educated at Putney High School for Girls and University College, London, where she gained degrees in English and Psychology, becoming the first (I think I am correct in saying) educational psychologist to be appointed in that capacity by a city council in England - at Leicester.

The diarist was brought up as a High Church Anglican, but opted for a career in education rather than the church. Before coming to Henley he taught at St John's School, Leatherhead, and was lecturer in education at University College, Leicester. As headmaster of HGS he was regarded by the governors of the school as dangerously progressive. He abolished corporal punishment (inappropriate at a co-educational school, he believed) and the Officer Cadet Corps, introduced a common staff room for men and women teachers, strove, successfully, to keep successive rectors of St Mary's, Henley, from infiltrating the school, and believed that the objective of the school was to provide good education, which was not the same thing as a high score for the school in examination results.

The school received a superb report from the Ministry of Education inspectors shortly before he retired. They backed the Headmaster's record and educational principles to the hilt, a triumphant endorsement of his stewardship of HGS, a view, however, that was neither shared nor understood by his successor.

The grammar school, founded in 1603, disappeared some years after the period covered by these diaries, but was reincarnated as the Henley Sixth Form College and as such continues to flourish.

The appreciation of an editor for a text that he transcribes (from handwriting not always easy to decipher), that he lops and chops, corrects and proof reads numerous it times and sets up for publication, does not necessarily increase as the task proceeds. But to me (not, of course, an impartial judge), after working on the first 20 volumes, I remained impressed  by the overall impression that the diary leaves as a record of the times and of the man and his achievements and disappointments. It is in the nature of a diary that many entries are trivial, but when trying to lop and chop I found that disconnections arose and that on the whole it was best (a luxury of on-line publishing) to preserve as much as possible.

Links are usually for public personalities whose names probably mean little or nothing to younger generations, but I have not used links for the very well-known, such as Mr Churchill or Adolph Hitler.

Diary styles
Spelling: The Headmaster always uses z in words such as surprize, organize; today s is often used. He spelt to-day, to-night and to-morrow with a hyphen, which I have retained; appaling, woolen, he spells with only one l. The names of foreign statesmen are not always correct. I have left his spelling of names alone.

Dots ..... mark excisions. Not all cuts are marked. The published version retains about at least 75% of the original text.

Square brackets [] indicate an intervention by the editor. Parentheses () are inserted by the diarist, who used full stops between initials, as in U.S.A. The use of capital letters is not always consistent, e.g., the blitz is sometimes the Blitz, the West may be the west.

I have inserted footnotes in the text, almost always in italics, rather than sending them to the bottom of the page, but occasionally using * to mark a footnote at the end of an entry.

Extended quotations are usually in italics.


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