Sunday, April 20, 2014

Update: School stories (more or less)

My favorite cover from this batch; great use
of color and just a tad surreal?

While I'm still absorbed by all the loot from my recent bookshopping, it's time to get back to the Overwhelming List.  I do still have one more update pending on mystery and romance authors, but decided I'd take a break from that.  After finalizing my recent series of four updates on children’s authors, I realized I had already come across enough additional writers for yet another couple of updates.  Some of the new additions specialized in school stories and others didn’t, and since they divided roughly into two halves I decided to split them up that way.  So, coming up soon will be an update on more general children’s authors, but in the meantime here are 15 more writers who all published—or seem to have published, in the case of one or two about which information is sparse—school stories, and of course a bunch of cover images as well, which are as seductive as ever.  (And by the way, the next edition of the list will contain a whole slew of additional girls' school authors, courtesy of The Book.)

I should acknowledge that at least a couple of these were suggested to me by Tina, who has given me lots of other useful suggestions already.  One of those was VIOLET M. METHLEY, who published children’s fiction as well as novels for adults, both of which seem potentially of interest.  AGNES MIALL, who wrote The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Everything (1916), reprinted in 2008, may also have written for adults as well as children, but she is still a bit shrouded in the fog of time.

Jacket blurb for Mabel Tyrrell's The Enchanted Camp

MABEL L. TYRRELL definitely wrote for adults as well as children.  She was the author of Give Me a Torch, one of the titles I passed up on my post-Christmas shopping spree at Russell Books in Victoria, Canada.  I haven’t learned enough about her yet to know if I should regret that decision or not, but for now some of her school stories, such as Miss Pike and Her Pupils (1928), seem just as intriguing.

A stray Kathleen Millar Macleod title

I’m always a sucker for World War II-era fiction, and so OLIVE DOUGAN’s wartime girls’ school stories, such as The Schoolgirl Refugee (1940), Schoolgirls in Peril (1944), sound seductive.  But—like so many lesser-known school stories and so much wartime fiction—it looks like tracking down copies will be an adventure in itself.

At least three of the writers in this update—KATHLEEN MILLAR MACLEOD, J. P. MILNE, and ELIZABETH FRANCES MEDLICOTT SMITH—wrote boys’ school stories as well as girls’.  I wonder (but don’t have time to research at the moment) if boys’ school stories were as popular and prolific as those for girls?  I haven’t come across all that many, but that may be simply because, for the most part, male writers wrote boys’ school stories and women wrote girl’s school stories.  At any rate, a bit of dabbling into a boys’ school story or two could, I suspect, be fun and interesting as a comparison.

Oh, to be a madcap someday...

And finally, all of my exploration into school stories has led me to one rather burning question.  What exactly, I wonder, constitutes a “madcap”?  In this update alone, we have MARJORIE BEVAN’s Madcaps of Manor School (1949), KATHARINE LOUISE OLDMEADOW’s Madcap Judy (1919), and SIBYL BERTHA OWSLEY’s A Madcap Brownie (1929).  And I’m pretty sure I could compile a substantial list from my previous updates.  It does give one pause.  Was there a particularly virulent strain of madcap mania among young girls in the early to mid-twentieth century?  And how, should I wish to do so, might I myself become a madcap?  Well, perhaps it’s just as well I don’t know…

The full list of new authors is below, and they have all already been added to the main list.  I hope you enjoy them!

MARJORIE BEVAN (1900-1966)
(married name Bennetton)

Author of children's fiction, particularly several girls' school novels of the 1920s to 1940s, including Five of the Fourth (1926), The Fifth at Foley's (1936), Mystery Term at Moorleigh (1937), The Luck of the Veritys (1938), Merely Belinda (1939), and Madcaps of Manor School (1949).


A lesser-known author of girl's school novels, de Foubert published around ten of them in the 1920s and 1930s, including That Term at the Towers (1927), The Fourth Form Mystery (1930), For the Sake of Shirley (1935), The Vac at St. Verda's (1938), and Sally's Sporting Chance (1938).

Illustration from Edith de Foubert's
Penny in Search of a School

OLIVE DOUGAN (1904-1963)

Author of several girls' school novels, including some intriguing wartime titles; works include The Bendon Bequest (1934), The Schoolgirl Refugee (1940), Schoolgirls in Peril (1944), Princess Gwyn (1946), Nancy Finds Herself (1947), and The Forbidden Holiday (1948).


Author of six girls' school novels in the 1920s and 1930s, including The Girls of St. Augustine's (1920), The Mysterious Something (1925), The Black Sheep of St. Michael's (1928), Young Diana (1931), The Tale-Tellers' Club (1932), and Jane Emerges (1937).

A great Kathleen Millar Macleod cover; Julia
is so confident and perky she's walking
right off of the cover!


Children’s author who seems to have written both boys’ and girls’ school stories, as well as other family-oriented novels; titles include Grafton Days (1932), Father of Five: A Tale of Scottish Home Life (1935), Brothers at the Brae House (1936), and Dilys at Silverburn (1946).

A somewhat disturbing Violet Methley cover?

VIOLET M[ARY]. METHLEY (dates unknown)

Playwright, children's author and novelist; her children's books include girls' school stories like The Bunyip Patrol (1926) and The Girls at Sandilands (1934); novels for adults include The Loadstone (1914), The Husband-Woman (1926), and The Last Enemy (1936).

And one that, should it ever be reprinted,
will, I suspect, be retitled...


A prolific author on sewing and homemaking, as well as The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Everything (1916), reprinted in 2008, Miall also published novels for children and perhaps adults, including Sweet Wine of Youth (1939), The Schoolgirl Fugitives (1943), and The Holiday Camp Mystery (1950).

Honestly, perhaps a new title here too?

J[ANE]. P[ATERSON]. MILNE (????-1976)

Author of nine boys' and girls' school novels from the 1920s-1950s, including Mystery at Towerlands (1929), The Mysterious Term at Merlands (1937), The Boys of Moorfield School (1939), Harriet G. at St. Hilary's (1949), The Chums of Study Ten (1949), and The Mystery of Gaily More (1955).

(aka Pamela Grant)

Author of girls' school stories and other girls' fiction from the 1910s to 1950s; titles include Madcap Judy (1919), Princess Charming (1923), The Pimpernel Patrol (1927), Cheery Chums (1930), Schooldays of Prunella (1932), The Three Mary Anns (1948), and Under the Mountain (1952).


Author of numerous school novels for both boys and girls, including Eardley House (1912), Skimpy and the Saint (1923), The Upper Third Twins (1926), Dulcie Captains the School (1928), A Madcap Brownie (1929), The School Knight-Errant (1934), and The Guides of North Cliff (1944).

Sally looks a bit like a possessed doll, doesn't she?


Historian, playwright, and author of girls' school and other children's fiction, including Sally Cocksure (1925), Joanna of Little Meadow (1926), The Dare Club (1931), The Dadlingford Mystery (1936), The Secret of High Marley Wood (1936), and The Mystery of the Tor (1943).

EVELYN SIMMS (1883-1968)

Poet and author of at least four girls' school novels—Her Freshman Year: An American Story for Girls (1924), Stella Wins the School (1929), The School on Castle Hill (1935), and Mystery at Rossdale School (1937).


Author of three children’s books—The Discovery of Mr. Nobody (1957), The Hidden Way (1961), and Roger at Ravenscrag (1968)—the last of which, at least, is set in a boys’ school.

One of Irene Swatridge's alter-egos; ah, the
"swirling mists"; what is it about isolated
houses that makes mist behave thus?

(née Mossop, aka Irene Mossop, aka Fay Chandos, aka Theresa Charles, aka Leslie Lance, aka Jan Tempest, aka Virginia Storm)

Prolific romance author under several pseudonyms—titles such as Gay Knight I Love (1938) and Hibiscus House (1955)—and about 15 girls’ school novels as Irene Mossop, such as Well Played (1928), Feud in the Fifth (1933), The Taming of Pickles (1933), and Gay Adventure (1937).


Playwright, children's author, and novelist; starting with children's works such as Victoria's First Term (1925) and Miss Pike and Her Pupils (1928), Tyrrell later wrote at least 18 novels, including The Mushroom Field (1931), Pull the House Down (1938), and Give Me a Torch (1951).


  1. Yet another feast for us to devour! Olive Dougan is well worth reading. I have the two you mention and also Princess Gwyn.

    I love the sound of Freesia's Feud, and Sally Cocksure. Yet another that would find itself being retitled nowadays I imagine!

    1. I swore I had replied to this already, Cestina. Sorry for my neglect. Glad to know that Olive Dougan is a good choice for my "to read" list. And you're right, Freesia's Feud (and Irene Mossop's other titles) do sound promising--and The Book backs us up on that!

    2. Not to worry! I've been en route from the UK to the Czech Republic for the summer months so not on-line much anyway.
      I hadn't clocked the author of Freesia's Feud - your comment reminded me that one of my favourite books as a child was Irene Mossop's "Well Played Juliana!"

      And a comic note to that - my copy is without a dustcover; it has red boards and shows Juliana galloping down the hockey field, aiming straight for goal.

      A few years ago I found what I thought was another copy of it in a secondhand bookshop. Same boards, same picture. When I looked more carefully I discovered that it was actually "Alice in Wonderland"....I couldn't resist buying it!

    3. Well, one can really never have too many copies of Alice in Wonderland, Cestina! I've seen other instances of the same cover art used for different books. Always sort of disorienting if you're used to seeing one of the books and stumble across the other.

      Hope you had a good trip and are enjoying the Czech Republic!

  2. Thank you for your information on Mabel L Tyrrell. Chestnut Court looks interesting. Do you know anything about the storyline

    1. Hi, Debbie. I found a capsule review of Chestnut Court which says it's set in Paris and focuses on the residents who live around a central courtyard. Which isn't a lot to go on but does sound enticing.


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