It is a great pleasure to write in support of Phoebe Thomson’s application for a post as home tutor. I was Phoebe’s Director of Studies throughout her three years at King’s College, Cambridge, and I supervised her for a number of papers in the English Tripos, including Shakespeare, Practical Criticism and Tragedy. I have known her for over three years now, and I support her application with warmth and great enthusiasm.
Phoebe was from the outset an extremely dedicated student of English literature, capable, reliable and hard-working. Her trajectory through the Tripos was partly a product of hard graft, and partly a product of having truly found her voice and metier: the work for the Part I Prelims was assessed as being on the 2.2/2.1 borderline; in Part I she received a solid 2.1; finally, in Part II, she fulfilled her rich potential and achieved a strong First. Phoebe's work grew and blossomed as she went through the degree; from the beginning, she showed evidence - both in essays and in discussion - of an acute and sophisticated mind that saw angles no-one else had seen. Her thinking was always original and incisive, but her writing rather tended to let her down. By the final year of the degree, however, Phoebe was writing superbly crafted essays – very sophisticated in their detail, impressive in the command of argument and highly accomplished, with a particularly good sense of historical context as well as critical methodology. Though she started off less confident than she might have been in her own abilities, she grew into her strengths and became one of our star students.
This trajectory was largely a tribute to her attitude – her commitment, her tremendous work ethic and also her unwavering enthusiasm. It is also a result of the excellence of her reception of feedback, which was invariably absorbed quickly and thoughtfully into her work. All of her supervisors commented on how responsive, respectful, open and alert a student Phoebe was; the phrase ‘a joy to teach’ was a refrain in their reports.
This pleasure extended fully to her group work: Phoebe was also a wonderfully open and generous presence in classes and seminars. Always thoroughly prepared, she was very good at facilitating discussion and moving between different conceptual levels when speaking about a text. Although quiet and gentle in her manner, she is capable of very precise observation and incisive readings. A tremendously popular member of her year-group, Phoebe would without any doubt be an asset to any cohort or grouping. She is a warm, kind, lovely person, extremely well-suited to the role of home tutor.
As you’ll have gathered, I recommend Phoebe Thomson very warmly and enthusiastically for the post.