My Fair Lady is a popular musical first produced in 1956 and released as a film in 1964, based on George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. It concerns the transformation of a Cockney flower seller, Eliza Doolittle, into an upper class lady, with the help of Professor Henry Higgins.
Films and books seem to provide the Hailsham students with historical detail, such as the gloves referred to here.
Edna O’Brien and Margaret Drabble are two contemporary writers from the same generation, who have both achieved a high level of acclaim.
The Great Escape is a 1963 war film that starred Steve McQueen, which is based on the true story of an escape from a German prisoner of war camp. The scene referred to here is the most famous part of the film, in which McQueen, who performed his own motorcycle stunts, jumps over a fence on a motorbike.
Thomas Hardy was an English writer active in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, well known for novels such as Far From the Madding Crowd and Jude the Obscure. Much of his work was set in the imagined county of Wessex, a fictionalised version of south-western England. His strong association with this region, along with his preoccupation with rural affairs, makes him a figure particularly relevant to Never Let Me Go.