Penelope Fitzgerald's brilliant novel about life at an eccentric stage school.
In the 1960s, Freddie's was the usual name for the Temple Stage School, which supplied the West End theatres with children for roles in everything from Shakespeare to pantomime. Freddie, the proprietress, is a formidable woman, of unknown age and provenance. But everybody who is anybody claims to know her. By sheer force of character and single-minded thrust she has turned herself into a national institution.
This story of what happened at Freddie's is not only for theatre-lovers, but for people who care about children or hate them, or were - once upon a time - children themselves. In particular, it is for those of us who sometimes pretend to be what we are not - that is to say, act a little.
Penelope Fitzgerald was the author of nine novels, three of which - The Bookshop, The Beginning of Spring and The Gate of Angels - were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She won the prize in 1979 for Offshore. A superb biographer and critic, she was also the author of lives of the artist Edward Burne-Jones, the poet Charlotte Mew and The Knox Brothers, a study of her remarkable family. She died in April 2000.