Tony Harding – a memory

Tony Harding, Old Askean and former English teacher at the school died peacefully on 27th December. His son Lawrence was with him. He was such a great support to so many both at school and afterwards. One of his former pupils writes:

I just heard that one of the stalwarts of Aske’s, the amazing and much loved Tony Harding, died yesterday. I doubt those of a more recent generation will have heard of him, but he was the head of English for decades and a real genuine academic who spent his entire career at Aske’s, of which he was himself an old boy, that must have covered nearly 50 years. I think it’s fair to say he was one of a handful of teachers that from the 60s on drove the reputation for excellence that Aske’s used to enjoy and that made it the most oversubscribed school in London. In many ways Telegraph Hill as an area exists in it present format because of what he helped the school to become. If you loved literature then you loved Tony. He was not without his faults for sure, but generally a great bloke and a very involved teacher during his whole career. His school plays were legendary. I once made an overly arch pointing gesture when I was playing Julius Caesar and his on-the-nose remark was, “A bit more gravitas and a bit less Hermione Gingold, old chap.” I had heard that he was in bad health and he was, of course, going on 90. Sadly CV restrictions must mean attending his funeral is out of the question. I often remember when I mentioned to him that I was thinking of asking a girl in one of the productions out (which would have been my first date if she hadn’t turned me down!) he recommended the Spaghetti House to me as it was cheap but still ‘up West’ and said, “Hold on a minute,” and went to the stationary cupboard where he took out a collection of the Metaphysical poets. “Take this. You can’t go far wrong with that. Keep it.” That’s the kind of man he was.