The History Boys: Comprehensive Guide for AS/A Level

Set text for:
  • OCR AS Level

Follow the story of eight unruly sixth-form boys preparing to take scholarship exams for Oxbridge. Their teachers are at odds about the role of education, and their headmaster is obsessed with results. Throw in adolescent anarchy, and you have Bennett’s witty, intelligent and bittersweet play. Detailed background information and comprehensive notes on the play’s many intertextual references make this guide an essential companion for study.

A highly intelligent guide to the play which would enhance the thinking of both teachers and students

M Courtney-Holt, Examiner, Teacher & Peer Reviewer (1st edition)

Engage your students!


  • talking points
  • key literary and linguistic terms

The pack tackles the key stages of text analysis:

  1. Walk-through Thorough section-by-section commentary walks students through each act
  2. Drawing it all together In-depth discussion of whole text focuses on: characterisation, relationships, genre, themes, language, form, structure, context, literary approaches
  3. Indicative content Supports teaching by ensuring all key areas are covered

Plus! Glossary of key terms ensures full understanding

What do teachers say about this resource? (8145)

Very useful. Detailed scene-by-scene analysis and contextual notes. I particularly like this resource because it covers every aspect of the play, bringing in significance of literacy references, etc. Gives me confidence in teaching a text I have not taught before... Excellent value for money and invaluable for a text you have not taught before.

E Stableforth, HoD & Customer (1st edition)

I found it comprehensive, detailed, and think it provides a very useful ‘key’ to the play’s numerous intertextual references and the context Bennett draws upon... leading students to a much fuller understanding of the issues surrounding Bennett’s debates... It will save a teacher who is new to the text a great amount of time in researching the origins of quotes, historical opinions, etc. It gives a very sound and intelligent overview of the play’s characters, themes and context which would deepen a student’s understanding of issues and concepts in the play... The information provided on History and Education would be very useful... The scene-by-scene analysis was detailed and interesting... A good resource, well researched and intelligently written.

L Mellor, A Level English Coordinator & Peer Reviewer (1st edition)

A highly intelligent guide to the play which would enhance the thinking of both teachers and students. I liked the detailed background knowledge... This is important as an ability to demonstrate contextual knowledge and how it affects our reading of any text is key to meeting the assessment objectives. Furthermore, the comprehensive treatment of the frequent allusions to other texts would be welcome to teachers who don’t have time to trace every allusion. This is important as these allusions often make the humour of the play... I was most impressed by the depth and breadth with which the authors dealt with this complex play. On top of this, their tone made the relatively complex ideas of the play clear throughout – a definite plus.

M Courtney-Holt, Examiner, Teacher & Peer Reviewer (1st edition)

Clear textual commentary; very useful background material. I particularly like this resource because [it is] clearly organised. Well written, challenging and not patronising. Useful references to other texts help with idea of intertextuality.

H Hook, English Teacher & Customer (1st edition)