Monday, 15 May 2023
For many years before he moved 25 years ago to sunny Monterey, California actor/writer Howard Burnham(1960-64) taught at top girls’ school, Queen Mary’s, in Thirsk, Yorkshire. There as elsewhere, he made his mark, not least in the stellar careers of some his pupils.
Award-winning writer Madeleine Bunting
Mr Burnham was an incredible inspiration and unquestionably his impact on my learning was enormous: his illustrations brought history to life, making it fun. Perhaps I would have always studied History due to my family background, but Mr Burnham definitely sparked the flame.
He noticed that I was an avid reader and introduced me to some extraordinary literature. He wrote in my final report that I was ‘leaving in a blaze of glory’, and his endorsement gave me a sense of belief in myself and fired me on for years.
He inspired in me a love of stories – I glimpsed in him an expansive creative freedom that only now do I feel I can express in my book writing.
Film and TV Producer Rosie Alison
Mr Burnham was absolutely exceptional – I never had a teacher as good as him throughout the rest of my schooling. He inspired in me a lifelong interest in literature, poetry, classical music, drama and imagination. I developed an extraordinary sense of spirit of place while at Queen Mary’s and loved film, wonder and nature, which was all seeded by Mr Burnham’s inspirational teaching.
I remember his first lesson in which he asked us to write an imaginary conversation between the stone lion and the unicorn that stood on huge stone pillars at the gates. His lessons were so entertaining, and the plays he wrote were fantastic: he really was the epitome of an inspirational teacher.
As Howard says “I like to think what JDS, V and Apples gave me, I passed on to her and one or two other”.