Irresistably Drawn to the Faustian Pact: Griselda Heppel Channels her Inner Witch for World Book Day 2024.

Happy Easter!

Griselda Heppel channelling her inner 
Maggie Smith as Professor MacGonagall
from Harry Potter.
World Book Day has been and gone and I can now reveal my costume, having kept you in suspense for a whole month. I know. Lucky me, I found this splendid Professor MacGonagall outfit online and have been channelling my inner Maggie Smith ever since (soon to move on to the Dowager Countess What is a weekend? Grantham from Downton Abbey).

I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable it was and reckon these Hogwarts wizards and witches know a thing or two about Practical Wear for Muggle Workshops (Spells, Charms and the Magic of Books Part 1, for instance). I’ve never before given author talks on each of my books all in one day (including two separate ones on The Fall of a Sparrow) and I did wonder if I’d end up muddling all 3 of them (oops) or conking out altogether. Fortunately the stories are each so different in theme and background, and the Christ Church Cathedral School boys’ enthusiasm, er, buoyed me up so well, that neither of those things happened.

Ante's Inferno by Griselda Heppel

Year 5 entered the hell of Ante’s Inferno with great gusto, revelling in the Seven Deadly Sins, and easily grasping why the very bottom of Dante’s hell isn’t, as usually depicted, burning hot but a freezing, bitter, ice-bound landscape. (Clue: it’s down to the cold cruelty of deliberately planning terrible crimes, rather than committing them in the heat of the moment.)
The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst
by Griselda Heppel.

Year 6 (some of whom I’d already chatted to about The Tragickall History of Henry Fowst when I visited their book club back in January) was irresistibly drawn to the Faustian pact (well, not literally), Elizabethan magic and alchemy, and the extraordinary 16th and 17th century magical instruments to be found in the Oxford Museum of the History of Science.

17th century crystal ball in the History of
Science Museum, Oxford.

And Year 8 shivered suitably at a brief history of the gothic novel, from Horace Walpole’s ground-breaking The Castle of Otranto to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to the extraordinary imagination of M R James; a ghost story tradition which influenced The Fall of a Sparrow without my even being conscious of it.

In the ghost story tradition from the gothic novel to
M R James: The Fall of a Sparrow by Griselda Heppel.

Above all it was a very happy, very busy day, activities packed into every moment, with costume judging during break (delightfully haphazard – WBD costumes are very much a fun tradition at this school, adopted by some while others don’t bother and nobody minds either way), reading aloud by a teacher during lunch break for those who like stories (and many do), and everywhere you turn, someone is practising an instrument, singing or play rehearsing. I came away marvelling at so much energy… and not just from the boys. 

I could just about keep up for one full day... but five days a week

Teachers: respect. 

Spot the author on World Book Day
at Christ Church Cathedral School, Oxford. 

Out now:

The Fall of a Sparrow by Griselda Heppel 

WINNER of a Wishing Shelf Award                                                                                                             



Great outfit! - I am really envious.
Peter Leyland said…
Well done for giving an author talk on all three books Griselda which I can imagine must have been quite daunting. There were also some interesting additions, the C17 crystal ball and the Gothic novel history. M.R. James, now he is some writer of ghost stories. Great too for giving a respect for teachers comment at the end of such a busy day. I can't now imagine how I did that five days a week for so long!!
Griselda Heppel said…
Thank you all - glad you like the costume! Happy to lend it to fellow Professor MacGonagall/Maggie Smith fans.

And Peter, I'm glad you like M R James too. The example I gave was The Mezzotint, and I discovered that afterwards at least one boy hunted it down to read. I hope James's antiquated style doesn't put him off.

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