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-- Footnotes


Reference Footnote
Airship Neill was probably inspired to use an airship as preferred means of travel for the Last Man Alive story by a remarkable and dramatic incident that had occurred only a few miles away from Summerhill school during a late phase of WW1. The imperial German air force had attempted to bomb Southern England and especially London by means of airships. On 16-June 1917, a squadron of six Zeppelins were dispatched from Nordholz Airship Base on what turned out to be a disastrous mission. Four of the airship experienced technical difficulties and were forced to return to base. One airship, L42, bombed Ramsgate in mistake for Dover, where it killed 3 and injured 14 more; the other, L48, was forced to descent from its cruise altitude of 16,000 feet due to technical problems, and because its crew were frostbitten -- apparently the airship designers had underestimated the problems of high altitude air travel. On 17-June 1917 at 3h25 a.m. the 200m giant was shot down by three RFC fighters; the hydrogen filling exploded in mid-air, and the wreck crashed in a field near the village of Therberton. Only two of the seventeen crew members survived.
The crash attracted a great deal of attention and people came from long distances to see the remains of the crashed airship, some parts of which are still on display at the local museum in Leiston.
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Chad Paxton Chadwick taught art and and acted as school secretary.
Corkhill George Corkhill was "a tall, quiet and courageous man, who had been a conscientious objector in the [First World] war, and had spent some time in Dartmoor prison for his beliefs. [...] He had a degree in science, but had also taken an MA in psychology [...]. Unobtrusive, naïve -- he once found lodgings for a group of Summerhill boys in the middle of the red light district in Munich -- he was immensely liked by the children. [...] Corks, as he came to be known, let the children make lemonade with citric acid, soap with fat and soda, water gardens, fireworks, glass and stink bombs -- and once even Irish stew. He was to remain at Summerhill for the rest of his working life, providing Neill with a valuable right-hand man who could in his absence deal with any situation that arose. He was the kind of man, one pupil later observed, you could wake at two in the morning without any inhibition.. Good stolid old George, never ruffled was how Neill saw him."
From: Jonathan Croall: Neill of Summerhill. Routledge, London, 1983
A Dominie's Five
A Dominie's Five, or Free School! (Herbert Jenkins, London, 1924) was in many ways the prototype for the Last Man Alive story. In this book, Neill recounts a story he told to five of his students at his International School in Hellerau (near Dresden/Germany) and records their reactions to the plot development. As in The Last Man Alive, the story takes Neill and his protagonists around the world (in an automobile powered by Radium and solar energy) and features frequent scenes of gratuitous violence.
Pyecraft 'Pyecraft the Millionaire' was one of Neill's favourite characters (probably the manifestation of his wish that some wealthy philantrophist would pop up and alleviate the notoriously dire financial situation of his school projects Hellerau and Summerhill), and was first mentioned in one of his earlier books, A Dominie's Five [...]. In this book his full name is mentioned: "Silas K. Pyecraft", a millionaire from New York (by the time The Last Man Alive was published in 1938, he had apparently moved his residence to the gangster capital Chicago).
Garrett's Works In 1938, the Garrett factory was probably the major local employer. Throughout its history, it produced machines as diverse as steam engines, washing machines and ultra light airplanes. Today, the site houses the local museum.


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Footnotes to 'The Last Man Alive' by A. S. Neill. This page is protected by copyright.