2019 was a significant year for…Patricia Beer

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:29 11 November 2019

Patricia Beer, who grew up in Bradham Lane, features in Daphne Barnes-Phillips' book. Picture: Terry Ife/Google

Patricia Beer, who grew up in Bradham Lane, features in Daphne Barnes-Phillips' book. Picture: Terry Ife/Google

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In the first of a series of articles exploring how 2019 was a significant year for many current or former Exmouth residents, author Daphne Barnes-Phillips talks about Patricia Beer.

Author Daphne Barnes-Phillips  latest book. Ref exe 31 19TI 9408. Picture: Terry IfeAuthor Daphne Barnes-Phillips latest book. Ref exe 31 19TI 9408. Picture: Terry Ife

The poet and novelist is one of the many people to feature is Mrs Barnes-Philips' latest book 250 Years of Exmouth Firsts.

She is included in the book for being the highest achieving primary school pupil in the 11+ exams in her year.

Mrs Barnes-Phillips writes in her book: "She was born in Exmouth 100 years ago on November 4, 1919, in Bradham Lane and died just 20 years ago in June 1999.

"Being a poet and novelist, her book 'Mrs Beer's house' provides a fascinating insight into her early life and her poem The Lost Woman tells how that came to an end when her mother died and she, her father and sister Sheila left Exmouth forever.

Author Daphne Barnes-Phillips  latest book. Ref exe 31 19TI 9408. Picture: Terry IfeAuthor Daphne Barnes-Phillips latest book. Ref exe 31 19TI 9408. Picture: Terry Ife

"Many of us can relate to her childhood experiences as she wrote: 'Throughout the 14 years of my childhood we lived in the village of Withycombe Raleigh. At the parish church, the village began, then came the village shops, Withycombe Infants, here Bradham Lane went off to the right uphill...on the first bend of the hill was a cornfield…opposite the field was a short terrace, and here we lived, in a small red-brick house called Petitor, on the front door of which my sister Sheila chalked, almost as soon as she could write: Mrs Beer's House.'

"And for those who can remember the 11 plus, or the previous scholarship exam, her description of it is most poignant: 'So for three years we were trained not for life but for the scholarship...it was assumed that Sheila and I would pass. To be first [in all the Exmouth schools] was the only anxiety. Sheila nearly was and I actually was.'

"She went on to have a very successful time at Exmouth Grammar School, obtaining an honours school certificate with three distinctions and four merits and exemption from London matriculation a year earlier than her peers, then gaining a first class Honours degree at Exeter University."

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