Each Side of the Pond
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This is the autobiography of Alys Rickett, born into the Acworth family in 1930. The Acworths historically are a family of high achievers and in the process of telling her own story, we learn something from Alys of the lives of her great-grandparents, her grandparents, her father and his sisters. During the Second World War, with her mother and brother, Alys was evacuated initially to Canada, and from there she went to America where, by happy chance, her mother was introduced to another distinguished family, the Bakers of Providence, Rhode Island. Harvey Baker was a highly respected lawyer and from 1914 –: 1920 he was the Federal District Attorney in Providence, Rhode Island. The Bakers offered Alys a home during the wartime years and this book is principally about the happy times she had with them and the lasting impact they had upon her life thereafter. We hear too how during those years in America Alys forged a lasting friendship with Ward Melville and his wife Dorothy, both notable philanthropists (it was on the Melville’:s shore-side property that Alys and her brother played with author and past presidential candidate, Wendell Willkie). Through the Melvilles she also met and became friends with other eminent people and their families –: amongst them world affairs commentator HV Kaltenborn, the “:Dean of Radio”:, and Robert Cushman Murphy, then the world’:s leading authority on oceanic birds. Those friendships remained even after her return to the UK when the war was over. She goes on to describe her life between her return to the UK in 1947 and the present day: we hear of her time as a student at St Andrew’:s University where she founded and edited “:Quorum”:, a university newspaper. (Having retained copies of every issue, she has included some extracted articles which she thought might be of interest, particularly since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, our future King and Queen, both chose St Andrews as the University for their own degree studies). We hear too about her work with the Women’:s Council: about her institution of a series of Lectures by visiting American luminaries at the English-Speaking Union in memory of the Harvey Bakers, and about her gaining an MA at the age of 70. Alys also touches very lightly on her faith, which has always been a great strength to her. (Any royalties from sales of this book are to benefit her local church, Holy Trinity Church in Prince Consort Road, South Kensington.) Having been educated on “:Each Side of the Pond”:, Alys has also included a supplementary section on education in the latter part of her book with sample examination papers from both America and the UK, and a set of British examination papers from 1947. Drawing no conclusions herself, she invites the reader to compare (i) the UK examinations of yesteryear and today to determine whether UK exams have become easier with the passage of time: and (ii) to compare the current UK and USA exams to determine whether one is easier than the other, or whether they are simply different. The motivation driving Alys to write her story was that she very much wanted to give an insight into the generous and cultured nature of the Americans she met during the wartime years and subsequently –: qualities which she felt were not always acknowledged and appreciated as they should be. She hopes this book has done something to show them as the wonderful people she knows them to be.