As promised here are a few thoughts about Sherlock’s bookshelf for mid0nz’s meta contest.
What are Sherlock’s books telling us about him? I was not surprised to see books about the law, about poisons and plants and crime. What surprised me was that Sherlock also keeps…
Ok. Info on English Lit GCSEs? Allow me!
Lets assume John did his exams somewhere between 1988 and 1991, Sherlock sometime between 1994-1998. I’m being flexible because noone’s clear how old John is meant to be and I don’t know or if Sherlock being Sherlock, he didn’t skip years and do the exams before his peers did.
My cousins/sister are both the same age roughly as Sherlock and did GCSE’s from about 1993-1998, I did mine in 2003ish. The exam also had a reform after 1995.
In 1990 and earlier, there was just one flavor of the exam for everyone and you took your lumps as you got them. In 1991, they started using tiered exams. So basically, John could have been one of the first years to be separated out into a lower-exam and a higher-exam class. In the higher you could get grades F-G and higher A*-E. Then they decided this was a bit silly, so made the whole exam tougher and in 1995, higher-exam candidates would get grades between A*-D, and lower-exam C-G.
Interestingly, Sherlock might have really struggled with a post 1990 exam, as the questions made a shift from purely wanting candidates to talk straight about plot, theme and characters, to contrasting and showing empathy. Questions like ‘imagine you are character X’ popped up a lot more.
The Eng. Lit GCSE’s was in three sections; drama (some of which must be pre-1900), prose and poetry. Which texts exactly, depends on the school.
Dramas before 1900- usually Shakespeare. A lot of schools buy in sets of two/three plays per exam-grade and alternate year on year- in the UK you often don’t need to buy your own books until A-level. My year did Hamlet and A Midsummer Nights Dream. My sister did Romeo and Juliet, I think. Macbeth or R&J are often used as intros to Shakespeare in Y7/Y8, others like Othello and King Lear end up being A-level exam texts. He definitely wouldn’t have done the Merchant of Venice as that only debuted on the exam a year before I took it. One of the Henry’s was on the list, but I couldn’t tell you which one; IV or V maybe. Others that popped up at random in your education were Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelth Night.
We almost all did The Crucible and Jane Eyre, though I think one cousin did Pride and Prejudice. Basically, you do some rounds of Hardy and Bronte/Austen. I remember various relatives also complaining over An Inspector Calls.
Everyone did Lord of the Flies. Everyone. There was no escape from Lord of the Flies, our teachers loved teaching it and they kept putting it on the syllabus with shit like Northhanger Abbey, which no one wanted to do. I vaguely recollect people in other schools doing Mark Twain, It probably Huckleberry Finn, which we thought was weirdly American. To Kill a Mockingbird is also possible. He wouldn’t have done Ethan Frome as that was a later addition to the exam. Mother Courage I am 80% certain was never an English Lit Text, BUT, my good pal has just suggested it might have been a GCSE Drama text instead. Ahah. Interesting.
Faust is also not a GCSE text, nor particularly an A-level text either, as far as I can tell, however, Dr Faustus is in the back of my head as something that is/was; again possibly on the drama syllabus. Also languages were compulsory- Spanish, French or German. Not unreasonable to see the links of the chain there.
Poetry is always a mix of things; I remember doing romance and war- so we had an anthology of female war poets to compare to some of the standard Wilfred Owen/ Seigfreid Sassoon fare for the historical side of things, and then an packet of what they called modern ‘romance’ poems but I definitely recall some about immigration and language in there too, and dialect, with the Johnny Cooper Clark and Carol-Ann Duffy.
So, Sherlock’s GCSEs? Here’s my best guess run-down:
English Literature, Mathematics. Triple Award Science: Chemistry, Biology and Physics, German, Design Tech: Resistant Materials, Geography, Music, Drama, (ICT/PE?)
What do you think?
oh thank you! That is very interesting.