The Harpole Report

The Harpole Report

"The Harpole Report" is the third novel by J. L. Carr, published in 1972. The novel tells the story mostly in the form of a school log book kept by George Harpole, temporary Head Teacher of the Church of England primary school of "Tampling St. Nicholas". The novel has attained a minor cult status within the teaching profession. The characters George Harpole and Emma Foxberrow reappear in Carr's eighth and final novel, "Harpole & Foxberrow General Publishers".

infobox Book |
name = The Harpole Report
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = Dust jacket of first edition - 1972
author = J.L. Carr
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series =
genre = Fiction
publisher = Secker and Warburg
release_date = 1972
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pages = 164
isbn = 436086107
preceded_by = A Season in Sinji
followed_by = How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the F.A. Cup

Like all of Carr's novels, it is grounded in personal experience. Carr was a Primary School teacher for almost 40 years, including 15 years spent as Head Teacher of Highfields school in Kettering. [Rogers, Byron (2003). "The Last Englishman. The Life of J.L. Carr." London: Aurum Press.] Carr described it as "an evangelical tract that got away". Carr, J.L. (1983) A double life in literature. "The Author" Vol 44, No 4, pages 102 - 104.] The novel is now published by The Quince Tree Press, which was established by Carr in 1966 to publish his illustrated maps and small books. Carr, J.L. (1987) "An inventory and a history of the Quince Tree Press to mark its 21st year and the sale of its 500,000th small book. August 1987." Kettering: The Quince Tree Press. ]


*Mr. James Albert Pintle: "one of the old school", who insists on imposing on his pupils antiquated maths problems about coal deliveries.
*Mrs. Rita Grindle-Jones: prim and proper advocate of lower middle class respectability, who has "never been spoken to like this in all my thirty years' experience". Harpole replies "You have not had thirty years' experience. You have had one year's experience thirty times."
*Mr. Croser: young, cocky teacher whom Harpole dislikes.
*Miss Grace Tollemache: spinster from prominent local family, who regards all her hopes as buried since she was condemned to teach "The Backwards" class.
*Miss Emma Foxberrow: attractive blonde Cambridge graduate and feminist, under whose influence Harpole gradually changes from a buttoned-up typically "English" admirer of Sir Henry Newbolt to a crusading maverick.
*Mr. Edwin Theaker: caretaker, intent on building his private administrative empire.
*The Widmerpools: the local problem family, with innumerable and determinedly illiterate children.
*Mr. Tusker: bureaucrat, determined to frustrate any new initiative
*Councillor Mrs. Blossom: libidinous mayoral candidate, who engineers disciplinary proceedings against Harpole when he rejects her advances.
*Alderman Tollemache: Grace's father, eccentric member of local education authority with a private vendetta against "percussion" who acts as "deus ex machina" in the disciplinary proceedings.


Frank Muir described "The Harpole Report" as "the funniest and perhaps the truest story about running a school that I ever have read" and chose it as his book to take to a desert island on the BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs.

The Times described it as "An assortment of memorable characters lurking in the English educational undergrowth." [cite news |author= |title=Kettering; the workaday town that takes pride in its modest achievements|work=The Times |location=London |page=14 |date=July 5, 1972]

Publication history

* 1972 Secker and Warburg ISBN 436086107
* 1973 Quartet Books ISBN 070431052X
* 1984 Penguin Books ISBN 0140069208
* 2003 The Quince Tree Press ISBN 1904016065


An abridged version of the book was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1981, read by Martin Jarvis [cite news |author= |title=Radio|work=The Times |location=London |page=23 |date=September 12, 1983]


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