The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included. Literature, she thought, is a commonwealth; letters a republic.
It [Cambridge] wasn't a holy grail in the sense that I'd never been to Cambridge. But then, when I did go, the contrast between Leeds, which was very black and sooty in those days, and Cambridge, which seemed like something out of a fairystory, in the grip of a hard frost, was just wonderful.
To begin with, it's true, she read with trepidation and some unease. The sheer endlessness of books outfaced her and she had no idea how to go on; there was no system to her reading, with one book leading to another, and often she had two or three on the go at the same time.
My experience came before most of you were born. My school was a state school in Leeds and the headmaster usually sent students to Leeds University but he didn't normally send them to Oxford or Cambridge. But the headmaster happened to have been to Cambridge and decided to try and push some of us towards Oxford and Cambridge. So, half a dozen of us tried - not all of us in history - and we all eventually got in. So, to that extent, it [The History Boys] comes out of my own experience.