School story

School story

The school story is a genre of fiction, basic to much of the children's literature of the twentieth century. The boarding school is a very common setting, with its plot advantages of the absence of parents and a relatively closed society.

The first true school story may have been "Tom Brown's Schooldays", which was followed by innumerable Victorian era imitations, and magazine series. The "Harry Potter" series of novels has extensively reviewed some of the generic conventions, albeit being filled with average fantasy conventions. These include the idea that the action should be described, almost exclusively, from the pupils' viewpoint.


Stock themes were: compulsory sport, popularity, bullying, food (i.e. hunger), getting boyfriends or girlfriends, the stranger and the familiar, crime and punishment. Variations on these sustained a huge volume of fiction, in particular of short stories.

Traditional school stories were wary of dealing with adolescence or puberty directly. ["George Brown's Schooldays" (1946) by Bruce Marshall is a novel dealing with boarding school education; it is much more sensitive to the misery and sexuality of all-male boarding, disqualifying itself from the genre.] "Eric, or, Little by Little" by Dean Farrar was a classic moral tract set in a boarding school. Its Victorian tone was never adopted as generic convention.


Commercially-successful authors of school novels have included P. G. Wodehouse and Enid Blyton. Another popular author was the prolific Charles Hamilton, better known as Frank Richards. He wrote of Greyfriars, St. Jim's and Rookwood amongst many other schools for the Amalgamated Press between 1906 and 1940. His most famous character is Billy Bunter.


The audience for such fiction was always larger than those in or after boarding-school education: schools were to some extent fantasy locations. Few such books were realistic. ["Nicholas Nickleby", in which Charles Dickens portrays abuses in the Yorkshire schools of a generation earlier, is outside the genre; few school stories represented escape from a brutal boarding school as an option.] [An exception being Kipling's "Stalky & Co.", which horrified Edmund Wilson; see Wilson's "The Wound and the Bow"]

The sub-genre of girls' school novels (Angela Brazil and others), shows this unreality even more, since fewer British girls than boys were educated away from home. An exhaustive treatment of Girls School Stories and their authors can be found in the "Encyclopaedia of Girls School Stories" [cite book
last = Sims
first = Sue
authorlink =
coauthors = & Clare, Hilary
title = Encyclopaedia of Girls School Stories
publisher = Ashgate Publishing Ltd. []
date = 2000
id = ISBN 1-7546-0082-3

ee also

*Boarding schools in fiction
*School and university in literature
*"The Gem"
*"The Magnet"
*Frederic William Farrar
*Frank Richards
*Billy Bunter
*Naughtiest Girl series
*St. Clare's series
*Malory Towers
*Rover Boys
*Harold Avery
*Elinor Brent-Dyer
*Chalet School
*Dorita Fairlie Bruce
*Antonia Forest, Kingscote School for Girls
*Elsie J. Oxenham - although her main Abbey Series is set as much out of school as in it, many of her other titles are set in schools.
*Anthony Buckeridge ("Jennings" in a boarding school, Rex Milligan in a grammar school)
*Margaret Biggs
*Josephine Elder
*Clare Mallory
*Geoffrey Trease
*Nigel Molesworth
*A.J. Wentworth, B.A. [] (Comic stories about a hapless prep school master by H. F. Ellis)
*Goodbye, Mr Chips
*"Botchan" by Natsume Sōseki; this is from the slant of a neophyte teacher
*St. Trinian's School
*Phyllis Matthewman
*Such, Such Were the Joys
*Boarding School
*Bruno and Boots


External links

* [,4273,4406534,00.html]

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