Back to school: A visit to Hampstead School

Poet and novelist Tobias Hill and rapper Doc Brown visit their old school

Award-winning British poet and novelist Tobias Hill yesterday encouraged students at his old school in Hampstead to “be imaginative with their lives”.

Hill, who returned to Hampstead School in London as part of a ‘Back to School’ alumni event facilitated by Future First, encouraged students to look beyond the world of nine-to-five jobs and to ‘invest’ their lives in what they love doing.

He revealed a residency at a private school had encouraged him to visit his old comprehensive school to share his experiences and advise students on potential careers.

“I don’t think I received any career advice at school,” said Hill, who has since become well-known for his novels The Hidden (2009), The Cryptographer (2003), and The Love of Stones (2001). “Getting my first poem published was my turning point and I realised it might be possible to devote myself to what I loved doing – making up tall tales!”

Joining him at the event was rapper, comedian and fellow Hampstead School alumnus Doc Brown (real name, Ben Bailey Smith), whose sister, writer Zadie Smith, also attended the school.

He said: “It was refreshing and interesting to share the knowledge with them and see their eyes light up when they learned how complex some elements of my job are.”

Brown, whose career has seen him perform with the Black Eyed Peas, Mark Ronson, and Lily Allen, said he took a multiple-choice careers quiz when at the school which suggested he become a roofer.

“I wanted to perform, write, create, and goof around in public,” he said. “You can’t judge a kid using multiple-choice!”

The performer also joked about the drawbacks of having a high-achieving sister. 

“It was especially difficult coming behind my sister who was a huge academic and a hero at this school,” he said. “I remember getting in trouble for smoking or being late. I went to the Head’s office and there was a framed picture of my sister with the speaker of the House of Commons!”

Brown put his sister’s success down to her state education.

“My sister’s first book became a global success. How is that possible?” he said. “It’s more than possible because she fraternised with everyone. She had so many points of reference. School is the first bit of research in life and she got to know so many different types of people.”

Both ex-students praised state education, with Hill applauding the “vitality” of his comprehensive school.

“It was comprehensive with a small c,” he said. “It was great for meeting people. The breadth and the reach of society, that’s really valuable, that’s really important.”

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments