The English Department prides itself on fostering a lifelong love of literature amongst Carthusians. We seek to provide academically rigorous teaching while promoting the need for pupils to learn independently. Reading and research skills are developed from the boys’ first term through our targeted use of the School’s superb library; all Fourths (Year 9) also complete our Foundation Course as we place emphasis on honing the technical accuracy of pupils’ writing. We cultivate diverse knowledge of fiction and non-fiction throughout their time studying English, always striving to venture far beyond the confines of the syllabus.
Indeed the progressive decision to adopt both our own literature course in the Under School and the Pre-U and IB Diploma examinations in the Specialists (Sixth Form) allows us unparalleled freedom to embrace a vibrant range of both canonical and contemporary poetry, prose and plays. Gone are the days when the content of lessons was dictated by the conservative limitations of the examination board, with our scholars left underwhelmed by the same tired GCSE texts supplied year after year.
Full details of the curriculum are available in the Under School (Years 9-11) Curriculum and Sixth Form Curriculum sections.
Beyond the classroom, the Department directs an array of societies that cater to all tastes: be they writing poetry, reading plays, discovering non-native literature or debating contemporary issues. There are reading groups in both the Under School and the Specialists, which allow pupils to develop and discuss their own personal literary passions. The department also has a strong tradition of encouraging creative writing. There is a flourishing creative writing society and an anthology of Carthusian writing, The Charterhouse Review is published annually.
Every year there are events that celebrate creativity and performance; for example, the Arts Festival involves collaboration with the Art and Music Departments to produce works connected by themes such as Metamorphosis and Storytelling, and our annual Recitation Competition entails whittling down five hundred or so entrants to twenty-five finalists – who then declaim to a packed house in Hall. Furthermore, there are regular theatre trips to the West End: whole year groups attend productions designed not only to be relevant to their studies but also to nurture their wider appreciation of drama. The Culture Society also runs evenings out to the ballet and opera, as well as more quirky forays to see fringe theatre or contemporary dance.
Further details about the extra-curricular opportunities organised by the department can be found here:
There is an impressive breadth of knowledge and experience within the Department. The team is comprised of brilliantly talented individuals who teach with flair, and who also play an essential and extensive wider role in the academic and pastoral life of Charterhouse.
Mr Nicholas Wakeling, MA - Head of Department
Mr Wakeling joined Charterhouse in 2011, having previously taught at Shrewsbury School. He read English at Trinity College, Oxford, before taking an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. At Charterhouse he has overseen the Culture Society's programme of trips to the theatre and opera and co-edits the annual anthology of Carthusian writing, The Charterhouse Review. He is particularly interested in encouraging the reading and writing of poetry, and counts Medieval and Renaissance literature, Modernism, and contemporary poetry amongst his literary interests.
Mr Matthew Dobson, MA
Mr Dobson read English at Cambridge. Before joining Charterhouse he taught English at Trinity Academy Halifax, and prior to this he taught in schools in both Hong Kong and Japan. His interests include writing poetry and he has published in numerous print and online poetry magazines. Mr Dobson is also a keen squash player.
Mr Charlie Hall, MA
Mr Hall studied at St John’s College, Oxford and, in a previous life, he worked on the arts desk at The Independent, and wrote catalogue essays for, among other things, Damien Hirst's exhibition at the ICA and for Aerial Creatures, an exhibition of Paul Nash's paintings at the Imperial War Museum. He claims to have particular interests relating to the representation of women in literature, but, given his devotion to dubious works of the 1950s, nobody is sure whether to believe him.
Mr James Kazi, MA
Mr Kazi was an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and, before his career in teaching, worked in the wine industry. Mr Kazi is also the Second Master. His literary interests include Milton, the printed voice and drama (from page to stage), with wider predilections for choral music, Michelin stars and, of course, wine.
Mr Edward Poynter, BA
Mr Poynter has an English and Classics degree from Exeter University and had a career in the army before moving into teaching in 2010. During his six years as an officer in the 4th and 2nd Battalions in the Royal Green Jackets and the Rifles, he saw active service in Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Before joining Charterhouse, Edward was an Assistant Housemaster and English teacher at Ardingly College, where he was also responsible for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and for co-ordinating all outdoor education and has coached rugby and football. He is an enthusiastic sportsman himself, as well as an avid student of literature, history and the arts, and has recently completed the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race. Mr Poynter is Housemaster of Weekites.
Mr Andrew Reston, BA, MSt
Mr Reston graduated with a double first in English Language and Literature from Balliol College Oxford in 1996, followed by a top Distinction in his Master of Studies degree. For seven years he was a Fellow of All Souls College, where he researched and taught English Literature and completed a doctoral thesis on Henry James. His areas of special interest include late-nineteenth-century fiction, fiction in general, Shakespeare, Romantic Poetry, Modernism, and American, Russian, French and East Asian Literature. He also has a penchant for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Comics. Mr Reston is also the Housemaster of Gownboys.
Mr John Richardson, BA
Mr Richardson has a first-class degree in English Literature from Nottingham and was awarded an MLitt in Renaissance English Literature from Oxford. He, along with his wife, look after Stainers which is one of the girls’ hostels and he also spends a lot of time supporting fledgling artists who perform in the School’s various bands. Within the department, he is jointly responsible for debating and enjoys sharing his passion for Shakespeare, Milton and Keats.
Mr Charles Sparrow, MA
Mr Sparrow teaches English and Classics, having studied Classics at Edinburgh University and English at University College, London. He has recently taken over responsibility, as Master of the Yearlings, for new boys arriving into the Fourth Form (Year 9). Mr Sparrow also coaches football, cross-country and cricket, and looks after the Junior English Society.
Miss Rebecca Thomas, BA
Miss Thomas completed her PGCE at Oxford University. She was educated at the University of Oxford gaining a BA in English Language, Literature and a PGCE. Miss Thomas's interests include creative writing, theatre and drama production.