There is much talk about social mobility, but little evidence of it in Britain today. Private school students are fifty-five times more likely to win a place at Oxbridge than students at state schools who qualify for Free School Meals. Seven per cent of children attend private schools, but they account for 54% of FTSE 100 CEOs, and 70% of High Court judges and 61% of Booker Prize winning novelists.
In an evening jointly hosted by the RSL and First Story, Jonathan Dimbleby asks whether the world of literature is becoming more, or less, closed. Alan Johnson, Home Secretary under Gordon Brown, recently published This Boy, remembering a childhood of Dickensian poverty in 50s London. Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English, drawing on his youth on a Luton council estate, was shortlisted for the Man Booker. Kate Fox, poet, Radio 4 regular and First Story Writer-in-Residence at Feversham College Bradford, did her A levels whilst living on income support in a Bradford bedsit. Salena Godden is a performance poet and writer, and First Story Writer-in-Residence at Highbury Grove School, London.