F B Malim

F B Malim

Frederick Blagden Malim was Master of Wellington College from 1921 to 1937, and Deputy Master of the Old Wellingtonian Lodge in 1923. He was the first Master of Wellington to be Master of the Lodge, but not the last.

Malim was a scholar at Trinity College Cambridge, having “won an open scholarship at Clare College, Cambridge, but preferred to go the following year to Trinity College, where he matriculated in 1891. He became a scholar in 1892 and won first classes in both parts of the classical tripos (1894 and 1895). He came close to winning a Trinity fellowship with a thesis on Plato’s Phaedo, and he was president of the union in Michaelmas term 1894”1  before embarking on a career  as a schoolmaster, specifically divinity.  He became an assistant master and then a housemaster (B8) at Marlborough. From there he headed north to become Master of Sedbergh before returning south to the mastership of Haileybury and ultimately, Wellington. He was chairman of the Headmasters’ Conference in 1932 and 1935.

He was described as “the last Victorian Master of Wellington, compact, grey-haired, square-jawed, a figure of awe. His last sermon in College Chapel was a scene from an old-fashioned school story. ‘Quit you like men!’ he announced” which would be imitated by Old Wellingtonians around the Empire: Quit… You… Like… Men…!.”

He was not unremittingly Victorian however, in his criticism of the Common Entrance he wished prep school master would teach boys as well as latin. He was also a pacifist, an interesting qualification for the mastership of this School. He was one of those thought to have originated the monkey of “that Hell over the Hill” for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He also pioneered a transatlantic relationship with Andover Academy, whose first exchange student, one F W Griffin broke every swimming record Wellington had, an returned with “a bastard English accent”. Revenge was gained when Wellington sent Richard Stoker on the return leg, where he he made a hole in one at North Andover Country Club’s fifth and was elected to cum laude and won six senior honors in his studies, more than anyone in his class.2

In fact his legacy at Wellington away from those four oft-repeated words was one of renewal and moderation: “The Wellington years were the period when his talents found their fullest expression. His policy during the difficult inter-war years was to keep the numbers high and the fees low while steadily improving the facilities. The boarding-houses were renovated and new science laboratories built. He was prepared to liberalize the atmosphere of the school, and he dealt sensibly and moderately with the activities of the communist-leaning Romilly brothers, Giles and Esmond, who inserted pacifist leaflets into all the hymnbooks on Remembrance day 1933.”2

Perhaps the final words should be left to his obituary in The Times ‘he was one of the foremost headmasters of his time and his advice was constantly sought by younger men who became headmasters, as well as by parents’.

  1. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography John Roach, ‘Malim, Frederic Blagden (1872–1966)’, online edn, first published Sept 2004.
  2. CLAUDE M. FUESS, Independent Schoolmaster, Little, Brown and Company Boston, 1952
  3. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ibid