Liverpool High School
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In her book ‘Common or Garden Child’ - a semi-autobiographical account of her early life - Muriel says that with little more than a month to go before she reached fifteen, she put her foot down and announced to her mother that she was not going back to her local school and that she wanted to go to a proper school. To her surprise, her ultimatum was accepted, and so Liverpool High School was selected for further investigation:
“We set forth together: together we interview the Head Mistress, and are shown over the school. This clinches the matter.”
“It is difficult to say who is the more enchanted, my mother or myself.”
“She is deeply impressed by the school honours boards, with their golden lettering – scholarships, head-girls, university degrees…….these are her dreams.”
“It is all as marvellous to my mother as to me. For her, time has run back, and fetched again an age of gold. This is her own youth – the things she loved – the things she gave up when she married my father.”
“By pure chance we have wandered together into her world. I cannot think why she ever got married, when she could have gone on teaching school and become a head mistress.”
“She admits gaily she would like to go back to school, to my school.”
“This is her life: this is something she knows and loves. This she had forgotten, had put from her; but now she is remembering, and now she knows that this is something I must have.”
A few weeks later, in the month of May 1910, Muriel caught the seven-thirty train to start life as a day-girl at this prestigious school.
The Liverpool High School opened in 1880 at 17, Belvidere Road, Liverpool, in response to requests from local parents. Over time, it expanded by absorbing adjoining houses, and by adding newer, modern buildings. In 1911, Liverpool High School changed its name to ‘The Belvedere School’ – “in order to stand out from other high schools in the area and to provide better rhymes for school songs”! From the 1940s through to the 1970s, the Belvedere was an academically selective independent girls’ direct grant school.
How Muriel fared during her time there remains a mystery, as, unfortunately, the school archives relating to that period have yet to be catalogued.
The fact that Muriel left The Belvedere School to go up to Somerville College, Oxford, probably provides the answer to that question!