(David Montgomery/Getty Images)

Trust that sustained a community

The main thing about Sir Eric Anderson was his integrity

Sir Eric Anderson KT 1936-2020

Sir Eric Anderson was Head Master of Eton 1980-1994, then Provost, and teacher of three prime ministers. Guy Walters recalls a stern and awe-inspiring figure while Graham Stewart asked colleagues, friends and former pupils, including Tony Blair, for their memories of a hugely influential educator


Eric was the Provost who appointed me as Head Master. The main thing about him was integrity. Boys had a great sense of trust in him and this is what sustains any worthwhile community. There was nothing self-serving at all about him. Decisions he took were invariably in the interests of the whole community. Every conversation was about Eton and not about himself. Eric understood the history and the rhythms of the place. This was one of the reasons he was able to deal so effectively with Old Etonians. As was said of him, Eric was not an Old Etonian but was more of an Etonian that anyone who had ever been there.

Much of the spadework in raising academic standards had been done by his predecessor, Michael McCrum, but Eric made it blossom. When Eric ceased to be Head Master the school was the strongest it had ever been.

But the greatest difference between Eric’s Eton and my own schooldays there, more than 20 years earlier, is that Eric’s Eton was a happier place.

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try three issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £5

Critic magazine cover