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November 18th 2013

Award-winning author visits Years 7 and 8

Cobham Hall Elder, Griselda Heppel, gave Lower School girls a fascinating insight into her debut novel, Ante’s Inferno, which won the Children’s Category of the People’s Book Prize in 2013.

Griselda explained the inspiration for her book, which drew on several historical events – the tragic death of a small boy at a school just prior to the beginning of WW1 and the war itself – as well as the 14th century poem Dante’s Inferno. Part of her story was also influenced by her time as a student at Cobham Hall, when she spent morning assemblies gazing up at the organ loft in the Gilt Hall.

Following her talk, girls got the opportunity to ask questions and found out more about the finer points of her story as well as getting tips on becoming a writer.

Wrote Griselda of her audience following her visit, “From the way they listened and their very perceptive questions afterwards, they are a keen, bright group, developing a true love of reading and writing and exploring literature generally.

“It was so sweet of them to buy me chocolates – none of my audiences has ever done that before,” she added.

Many of the girls bought Ante’s Inferno after the talk and had it signed by Griselda.

Intrigued by the talk, Toke in Year 8 began reading the book the next day (Saturday) and finished it within the weekend.

“Overall, the book and the talk were amazing,” she said.

Meanwhile, Griselda was also pleased to reacquaint herself with her former school. “I loved seeing it all again,” she wrote. She attended Cobham from 1969 to 1972.

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