New College’s Reading Week was given a boost when we were privileged to host a visit from William Hussey, author of over a dozen novels for young adults and grown-ups. William has been visiting schools for over a decade with the aim of getting young people excited about reading and encouraging them to write their own stories.
William worked with year 7 – 9 students throughout the day presenting workshops on the theme of ‘History of Horror’ and the 1600 witch trials. His interactive presentation, in the Horrible Histories-style, focused on writing, reading and an exploration of genre. William read extracts from one of his books and engaged the students in recreating a mock witch trial, in which they played major roles such as Dracula and Van Helsing. This active learning experience impressed the students, with the mix of horror, humour and history combining well to capture their interest:
“I loved the way William scared us in the workshop, he is a very good author and I can’t wait to read his books,” – Alfie
“The ‘History of Horror’ workshop was interesting and creative and William was funny.” – Szymon
The presentation moved on to discuss why specific trends in literature happen based upon the political aspects of the time and the relevance of historical events to what is happening in the world today. William also discussed the history of LGBTQIA+ rights and how these transform from his books to modern day life. He discussed the Stonewall riots and section 28. This encouraged the students to think deeply about literature in its period context and to make connections when it comes to the LGBTQIA+ rights and how they have changed over time.
Ms Maguire comments:
“I loved William Hussey’s visit today - dispelling the myths about witchcraft.
More importantly raising awareness in our students that the freedoms we have today should not be taken for granted and we must challenge those who seek to deny us our human rights.”
NCL student Sarah observed:
“We learnt a lot from William, especially about the history of LGBTQ rights, it is not nice thinking what those people went through just for being themselves.”
The final word goes to award winning author William Hussey:
“Fantastic to speak to so many bright, intelligent, compassionate children about the history of LGBTQ rights and to meet members of the Young Allies Club that was set up by students themselves. I was made to feel very welcome by all the staff and students.”