“To Kill A Mockingbird” Trends On Twitter After Being Dropped From English Literature GCSEs

The Sunday Times reports that under Michael Gove’s plans most of the set texts will be by British authors.

Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird. The Associated Press

You might be wondering why To Kill A Mockingbird is trending on Twitter.

The reason is that the Sunday Times says the Education Secretary has dropped a number of classic American works from the English Literature GCSE.

They apparently include the John Steinbeck novella Of Mice and Men, Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

The exam boards had to follow Department for Education guidelines when drawing up the new GCSE. From 2015, teenagers taking the OCR English Literature exam will have to study a pre-20th-century novel by a British author such as Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, poetry by the Romantics, and a Shakespeare play. Edexcel’s exam is said to be similar.

OCR told the paper:

Of Mice and Men, which Michael Gove really dislikes, will not be included. It was studied by 90% of teenagers taking English literature GCSE in the past. Michael Gove said that was a really disappointing statistic.”

Most people don’t seem very supportive of the idea.

Michael Gove is Dolores Umbridge.

— Julian Simpson (@JulianSimpson1)

Gove should read #ToKillaMockingbird he might learn something

— craic of dawn (@dawncruttenden)

To Kill A Mockingbird was one of the books at school that made me LOVE reading. Go to hell, Michael Gove.

— Thom (@whatawaytoendit)

There are, however, some dissenting voices.

Patronising outrage about Gove ban on US literature on syllabus. Young people are able to read books other than those they are told to.

— Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse)

the one thing that gove gets right, to be fair to him, is the majority of 20th century british lit is terrible

— Cyber... Christ (@rolandbarfs)

And some pretty solid jokes.

I think it's ace that Michael Gove wants British kids to read Hard Times. If nothing else, it'll tell them where he got all his ideas from.

— Pete Paphides (@petepaphides)

If Michael Gove doesn't want schoolchildren reading foreign authors, he shouldn't have sent them all of those Bibles.

— Mr Roger Quimbly (@RogerQuimbly)


In a statement, a Department for Education spokesperson said that, contrary to reports, no books or authors had been “banned”:

“In the past, English Literature GCSEs were not rigorous enough and their content was often far too narrow. We published the new subject content for English Literature in December.

“It doesn’t ban any authors, books or genres. It does ensure pupils will learn about a wide range of literature, including at least one Shakespeare play, a 19th century novel written anywhere and post-1914 fiction or drama written in the British Isles.

“That is only the minimum pupils will be expected to learn. It is now up to exam boards to design new GCSEs, which must then be accredited by the independent exams regulator Ofqual.”

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Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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