Allan Bennett's play The History Boys is set in the time period of the 1980s. It takes place at a fictional grammar school named Cutlers' Grammar School located in the north of England.
The play is about a group of young boys who are preparing to undertake the standardized Oxford and Cambridge history entrance examination. The boys are taught by three teachers named Irwin, Hector, and Lintott, each with differing teaching styles.
As the plot of the play progresses, the personality of each teacher is portrayed. Irwin is a substitute teacher and special subject coach, so his teaching style is more strict in preparing the history pupils. Irwin was brought in due to the Headmaster's doubts about the boys' readiness for the exam, which he confides in Lintott. Hector, however, is an unconventional enthusiast about knowledge and his teaching style evokes passion for the subject.
Hector fondles a student and is fired, while Irwin accepts a sexual proposition from another student. The history pupils pass the exam and eventually go on to good colleges and great careers with the exception of one pupil, Posner.