Laurence Bricker was born on October 3, 1968, in Lexington, Virginia, to Beauregard and Agnes Bricker. Beau Bricker was the headmaster of a small prep school for boys, the Virginia Barrie Institute.
The prep school was originally known as a school of last resort for the wealthy but uninspired students of Virginia. However, Beau took it as a personal challenge to raise the level of performance at his school, and he created an almost military-like schedule and course load.
Laurence grew up and knew nothing but drive and discipline his entire life. Every night after dinner, his father would make sure that Laurence sat down and studied for three hours, after which Laurence's father would review his homework and critique his writing.
One of the headmaster's passions was the poetry of Milton, Donne, and Dante. He pushed Laurence into literature, and the boy was explicating poems at an age when most other kids were reading The Hardy Boys.
Laurence's young life was bleak by some standards, consisting only of classes, study, and chores. He played very few sports, although his father instilled a rigorous physical fitness program. He had very few friends and almost never played. Frivolous things like popular music, television and movies were off limits.
Laurence attended Princeton and Yale for his college degrees. Even out from under The Headmaster's control, Laurence kept to the same principles he had known all his life. He rose early, did his jumping jacks and sit-ups, went to class, went to the library to study, and went to bed. Very little else entered his life.
After finishing his Ph.D. in English, Laurence accepted a job at a small military prep academy in Staunton, Virginia, so that he could be closer to his family. The Headmaster retired in ill health, and the Brickers hired a stern woman named Margaret Johnston to provide professional care. Margaret was a plain but fierce woman who took good care of the elderly patriarch.
After Beauregard Bricker passed away, Laurence asked Margaret to marry him. He hadn't thought about it before, but a man of his position and ambition needed a wife, and Margaret was certainly driven and determined enough. She accepted, and the couple married about five months after The Headmaster's funeral.
Laurence wanted to leave the small military school and teach at a more prestigious institution, preferably a university. However, he found it difficult to jump from a prep school to the Ivy League, and he ultimately accepted a job at the University of Mississippi.
Laurence immediately applied himself to his new post and went about separating the wheat from the chaff. He spent most of his time in his office, poring over student materials and his research materials. His rigorous demands drove away most students, which suited Laurence just fine.
As befitting his upbringing, Laurence believed he wasn't there to make friends. He was there to work, a view he wished were shared by his more frivolous colleagues like Douglas Reed.