Claxton Hall is a semi-documentary history of a New England private school.
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Some of America's richest treasures and oldest institutions are its college preparatory schools: Exeter, Deerfield, Choate. Steeped in tradition, they are among the earliest and most important influences on many leaders, past and present.
But what actually goes on there? Are they merely diploma mills for the rich? A second chance for those who can't function in a "traditional" setting? Is everything you read in the catalog strictly true? And what of the human side, the people who actually make up such schools and academies? Are they, as R.F. Delderfield's To Serve Them All My Days suggests, noble institutions of higher learning staffed by dedicated teachers? Or do they merely turn out disaffected Holden Caulfields? Or might perhaps a truer picture be found in Knowles' A Separate Peace?
The truth lies somewhere in between. Most "prep school" novels are told from the viewpoint of a teacher or of a student. Rarely do we see both sides of the coin, nor how they are interdependent. I draw on thirty-four years' experience teaching at private schools to create Claxton Hall, a fictional school, but one full of real stories. Personal accounts, admission "propaganda" and dispassionate observers record the school's founding, growth, advances and retreats from its inception in 1793 to the installation of its present head in 2000. The reader, from numerous points of view, will see how outside influences and events shaped the school and how, in turn, the school altered the community around it.
Insofar as possible, I have endeavored to "flavor" the work by copying the style, syntax, grammar and spelling of each era.