Eagle House School
In the spring of 1957, when he was eight years old, Nick was sent to this prep School at Sandhurst in Berkshire. For the next five years this would be Nick's home, holidays apart. At the school, apart from the schoolwork, he did well at many other things, such as rugby and running. He was told to be a very promising athlete, and a fast runner. As one may understand Nick also had a talent for music. He was a leading member of the School's Chapel choir and he had a very fine voice. At the end of the Christmas term of 1961 Nick left Eagle House. He had then become a prefect and in the last term, and the school's Head Boy.
Marlborough was founded in 1843. The environment for the pupils back then was rather grim. The architecture was very spartan and stark - some buildings were designed by an architect who later would build a prison - and flogging was very common. The school's belief was that "mortification of the flesh would enlighten the soul and elevate the moral spirit". This school in Wiltshire is were Nick came in January 1962, and stayed until July 1966. Maybe he didn't have it as bad as the 19th century pupils, but the conditions were quite spartan at Marlborough until 1975.
At Marlborough Nick continued with sports and was quite successful. He was a fast sprinter who set the school's record for the 100-yard dash, which remained unbeaten for several years. He was also a member of the relay team that won the school race in the summer of 1965. Together with his friends though, music was the big interest. They listened to records a lot, and it was all from jazz to rock 'n' roll. Because of listening to music, Nick soon began to play instruments on his own. He had already played the piano for a while, and on Marlborough he also learned to play the clarinet, the alto sax and later of course, the guitar. His friend David Wright taught Nick his first chords in 1965, on a guitar that he had bought for £13. David just showed him the basic chords, and he recalls: "A few days later he was better than I was. He was a proper musician. He played by ear and he was good".
Nick was in those days a very happy young man, just like anyone else at his age. All of his friends remember him as a smiling guy with a great sense of humour, but he was also shy and a bit reserved.
Fitzwilliam is located about a mile outside of Cambridge, which has been a university town since 1209. Nick Drake came there in October 1967 to study English. After studying at the strict Marlborough Collage, the life in Cambridge must have been a liberation for him. There was no longer a house master looking after the students and no one there to tell them what to do. Nick seemed to like it in Cambridge. But he didn't spend much of his time at Fitzwilliam, because he didn't really enjoy that place. The cubic architecture, with student rooms that looked like motel rooms, was quite different from the overall image of Cambridge. So he used to be a lot at other collages, like Caius, where his newly found friend Robert Kirby studied.
In Cambridge Nick started to get somewhere with his music. He worked together with Robert, playing concerts, and he developed his guitar playing and song writing further. In 1968 his efforts bore fruit and he was signed to Island Records. From the summer of 1968 to the spring of 1969, Nick commuted between London and Cambridge to finish his first album. In July 1969 he quit Cambridge to go in for his career as a musician.