When the walls of the fort in the city’s eponymous Fort area came down in the early 1860s, it ushered in an era of change for education.
The then governor-general Sir Bartle Frere released some of the newly available land for building schools, while selling off plots to help fund the schools.
Cathedral and John Connon School in Fort was born in this moment of Bombay’s history.
On the occasion of the school’s 150th year celebrations, a book by two former students, Mridula Sood Maluste and Viral Doshi, titled ‘The Cathedral and John Connon School An Undefiled Heritage’ was released on Saturday at an alumni event.
“What makes the school unique is not that it has completed 150 years, but that it has completed 150 years of excellence,” said Doshi, alumnus of the 1975 batch.
The histories of the city and the school are closely intertwined. It has moved between many different locations and has also influenced the city and the country in terms of the students it has produced.”
Having embarked upon the project 10 years ago, the duo’s research fanned out to several resources, from the Asiatic Library in Mumbai to the British Library in London, and interviews with around 100 alumni.
The school’s alumni includes Salman Rushdie, Homi Bhabha, Fareed Zakaria and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The 360-page book, filled with photographs from different eras, is crammed with anecdotes about some of these and other figures.
Rushdie says the book was marked out by Principal Bernard Gunnery as “cleverer than most”, while Rushdie’s own Midnight’s Children it says, contains 203 references to the school.
Divided chapter-wise by the eras of each of the principals, Sood Maluste says the book can also be viewed as a “social commentary of eras”.
“The school has such a fascinating history,” said Sood Maluste. “It went through so many struggles, and always came out with its spirit intact.”
Principal Meera Isaacs said: “The book is very important as it documents the school’s history with beautiful photographs and a lot of research. It’s a wonderful, scholarly book.”
A large part of the book comprises photographs, the credit for which goes to Gita Simoes, responsible for art direction. Priced at Rs 3,000, initially the book will be available only at the school.