Monday, December 15, 2014

UPDATE: School story authors (A-C)

I've been promising a series of posts about the slew of new school story authors added to my Overwhelming List in the most recent update (as a result of my perusal of the wonderful Encyclopaedia of Girls' School Stories by Sue Sims and Hilary Clare), and finally I'm ready to get started with that. There are so many of them that I've decided to split them into several different posts to appear over the next few weeks.

This was both a really fun part of the update to work on and a slightly frustrating one. Out of the 248 authors of school stories who were added (many of whom wrote other types of books as well), there are far too many about whom little or nothing is known. My standby phrase "More research needed" has become something of a cliché now, and unfortunately in many cases more research is unlikely to yield much in the way of results. Children's authors in general, and perhaps school story authors in particular, were, it seems, often viewed at the time in the same way that romance or thriller authors were—they were a dime a dozen and more or less disposable. As a result, little effort was made by reviewers or by later scholars—or indeed even by the authors' own publishers, in most cases—to document their personal details or histories. Thus, any discoveries of these authors' true identities are likely to be either accidental—stumbling across a reference that hasn't yet been found—or familial, if someone were to read my list and say to themselves, "Hey, I remember Aunt Edith talking about publishing a book of that name!"

So, indeed, many of the names listed here remain mysterious to say the least. Some are known to be pseudonyms, but the real names have been lost. Some are known to be married names, but maiden names are enigmas.

Probably none, however, are so enigmatic as AN OLD GIRL, the pseudonym under which a single school story, Susie's Schooldays in France, was published. We don't even know for sure what year it was published, though Sims and Clare say it was likely in the 1920s. Now how on earth could one imagine that puzzle getting solved short of a relative discovering a manuscript of the book in their great-grandmother's personal effects (which just happen to have been stored intact in a cousin's garage for the past 20 or 30 years)?

At any rate, there are certainly some intriguing authors or titles here. I confess that one part of me wouldn't mind checking out one or two titles by E. E. COWPER, whose work Sims and Clare describe as "in the Bessie Marchant tradition." Some of her book covers are completely seductive to me, but perhaps a little of her heroines' adventures would go a long way? From the sound of it, FLORENCE BONE's school stories may belong in the same category, though Sims and Clare note that the latter are "thoroughly enjoyable."

There aren't a lot of "big names" in this section—most of those I had already stumbled across and added even without the help of Sims and Clare—but there are a couple of particularly well-known authors I had previously missed. MAY BALDWIN was popular and prolific, and her work reflect the development of girls' schools in England and also feature realistically-portrayed international schools. And I've even already read a book by NANCY BREARY, known for her sense of humor (reflected in my favorite of her titles, The Snackboat Sails at Noon!). By the way, surely HILDA BREARLEY was a pseudonym intended to evoke the more successful Breary. And indeed, my copy of Breary's It Was Fun in the Fourth has a Brearley title prominently advertised on the back…

Since the school story genre isn't exactly known for its multiculturalism, I was interested in two titles that Sims and Clare singled out. ELISABETH BATT's A Jamaican Schoolgirl (1962) is (obviously) set in Jamaica, and MARGUERITE L. BUTLER's Tulsi (1934) is set in an Indian boarding school. Butler was probably a missionary in India herself and had earlier published the non-fiction Hindu Women at Home (1921), and Sims and Clare praise the book for its cultural accuracy and realism. Both of these titles, from what I can tell, have strong religious components, but I'll bet they would be quite interesting.

And finally, there are three other writers that sound particularly intriguing to me. JACQUELINE BLAIRMAN was a close friend of Margaret Biggs. Sims and Clare note that her work is humorous and shows lots of potential, but she only ever published three titles (one of which is a collaboration with Biggs). JOAN BUTLER-JOYCE was even less prolific, publishing only two titles, but those, again according to Sims and Clare, amusingly subvert some of the clichés of the school story. And then there's A. E. BURNS, who also wrote only two books, and only one school story—The Grand Duchess Benedicta (1915), set in a Catholic convent school, which for some odd reason is drawing me to it despite the fact that I have only the vaguest sense of the details of its plot. But, more's the pity, I haven't been able to find a cover image for it.

Of course, the main point of these update posts is to share the lovely cover art that graced many of these books. I've done my best to select the most evocative and entertaining of images. What do you think?

AGNES ADAMS (1891-1951)
(aka Agnes Logan)
Author of two related stories, Doddles (1920) and Doddles Makes Things Hum (1927), mentioned by Sims & Clare, several other children's books, and three pseudonymous adult novels, The Necessary Man (1929), There Is a Tide (1930), and Comfort Me with Apples (1936).

GWENDOLINE ALLEN (dates unknown)
More research needed; apparently the author of only one girls' school story, The Fourth Form at White Abbey (1945), which was reprinted later the same year in an expanded edition.

AN OLD GIRL (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of ????)
More research needed; pseudonym of an unknown author who published a single school story some time in the 1920s (even the exact date is elusive) called Susie's Schooldays in France.

[MARY] VERA ARMSTRONG (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of the school story Maris of Glenside (1953) and of two other books for children that were focused on Guiding—Twenty Tales (1949) and Rival Camps (1950).

MAY BALDWIN (1862-1950)
Important early girls' school author whose work often featured realistic international schools and reflects the evolution of girls' schools; titles include Two Schoolgirls of Florence (1910), The Girls' Eton (1911), A Riotous Term at St. Norbert's (1920), and The School in the Wilds (1925).

WINIFRED BARNES (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of story books for small children and books on English grammar, as well as two girls' school stories, The Jewels and Jenny (1948) and Jenny at St Julien's (1949).

F[????]. BARON (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of one girls' story, The Mystery of the Silver Statuette (1948), as well as several other children's titles, including Olive Dawson's Secret (1946), Pip Kin Seeks the Wizard (1946), The Flodden Rubies (1947), The King Works Magic (1947), and Chums Divided (1947).

ELISABETH BATT (dates unknown)
Author of Christian-themed children's fiction, including The House with the Blind Window (1955), In Search of Simon (1956), The Other House (1960), The Smallest Island (1961), and a unique school story set in Jamaica called A Jamaican Schoolgirl (1962).

(née Turle)
Author of two girls' school stories, Gillian the Dauntless (1937) and Harum-Scarum Jill (1937), as well as more than a dozen other children's books, including Eight Weeks in the "Saucy Sue" (1927), The Mystery of the Sinclairs (1932), Open Windows (1938), and Glen Robin: A Story for Girls (1941).

FLORA E[????]. BERRY (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of one school story, Monica's Choice (1904), and three other titles about which information is sparse—In Small Corners (1899), Neta Lyall (1903), and Lettice Martyn's Crusade (1930).

ANNA BEST (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of two girls' school stories—School Rivals (1925), in which the heroine mostly rescues others from dangerous situations, and Madge's Victory (1926), which Sims and Clare describe as "unintentionally amusing" because of its bewildering plot.

(married name Pinto, aka Jacqueline Pinto)
Author of three school stories which deal humorously with class and pretense—The Headmistress in Disgrace (1949), A Rebel at St Agatha's (1949), and Triplets at Royders (1950)—and of a later series beginning with The School Gala Disaster (1985).

REBECCA BLOUNT (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story called Schooldays (1921), about an old-fashioned school being superceded by more modern schools. Sims and Clare note that it may be autobiographical.

FLORENCE E[MILY]. BONE (1875-1971)
Author of romantic and historical novels from the 1900s to 1950s, as well as both girls' and boys' school stories characterized by melodramatic plots; titles include Margot's Secret (1911), Curiosity Kate (1913), The Valley Of Delight (1913), Just like Fay (1928), and A Flutter In Brocade (1929).

AGNES [CLARA] BOOTH (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of several children's books, including one that is in part a school story, The Forest Mystery (1949). Other titles include The Deerskin Island Mystery (1945), The Secret of the Harvest Camp (1948), Red Eagle (1950), and The Quest of the Stone (1963).

NORMA BRADLEY (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of two girls' school stories—The New Girl at Greylands (1948) and Ghostly Guests at Greylands School (1949).

Author of adult novels and religious writings, and creator of the first school-related series beginning with The Snowball Society (1877); novels include Country Maidens (1875), Astray: A Tale of a Country Town (1886), Miss Carr's Young Ladies (1897), and Pastor Oberlin (1912).

HILDA BREARLEY (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of at least three children's books during and after World War II.  Her titles include Island Farm (1940), Castle in the Sun (1947), and Adventure for Elizabeth (1952).

NANCY BREARY (1903-1988)
(full name Annie Florence Breary)
Author of numerous girls’ school tales from the 1940s to 1960s, including Give a Form a Bad Name (1943), A School Divided (1944), The Snackboat Sails at Noon! (1946), Five Sisters at Sedgewick (1950), Hazel, Head Girl (1952), Fourth Form Detectives (1954), and Junior Captain (1960).

(aka E. Fairfax Byrrne)
Author of religious fiction for adults and children, including the school story Reaping the Whirlwind (1885); others include A Superfluous Woman (1894), The Engrafted Rose (1899), Susan Wooed and Susan Won (1905), The Story of Hauksgarth Farm (1909), and The House of Robershaye (1912).

MONICA BROOKE (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, The Girl Who Hated School (1950). It seems likely that she is also the Monica Brooke who published two romance novels the following year—When Passion Waits (1951) and Divided Desire (1951).

More research needed; author of three children's books—Broad Is the Way (1953), The Adventures of Tina and Tim (1954), and 'They Shall Be Mine'—the last a school story.

Guiding aficionado and children's author; Hilary Follows Up, or, The Peridew Tradition (1939) is a school story; other titles are Dalmira Wins Through (1934), Cherry Becomes International (1946), and Ready for Anything (1948), and various non-fiction works about Guiding.

A. E. BURNS (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of only two books, the first a school story set in a Catholic convent school, called The Grand Duchess Benedicta (1915). Later, Burns published Peggy in Demand (1924), about which little is known. 

MARGUERITE L. BUTLER (dates unknown)
More research needed; probably a missionary in India herself, Butler published one girls' school story, Tulsi (1934), set in an Indian boarding school, which Sims and Clare praise for its cultural accuracy and realism; Butler also published the non-fiction Hindu Women at Home (1921).

JOAN BUTLER-JOYCE (dates unknown)
Author of two school stories praised by Sims and Clare, Hot Water (1935) and No Responsibility (1940), which subvert the clichès of school stories; she also published one additional children's book, She Went to London (1938) and what appears to be an adult novel, Catherine-Wheel (1939).

FRANCES CARPENTER (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of H. E. Boyten, aka H. E. Boyton)
Author of one girls' school story, A Rebel Schoolgirl (1938) and another title, Sally of the Circus (1939), as Carpenter; she had earlier published one book, Plot and Peril (1926) under her real name, which is described as an historical adventure for boys, set in England in 1556.

JUDITH CARR (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of Mrs. E. L. Fairbank)
Author of eight girls' stories in the 1940s and 1950s, most of them school tales, including The Templeton Twins (1947), Scholarship Sue (1948), The Jays of St John's (1948), Penelope's Prefects (1950), The New Girls of Netherby (1951), Madcap Melody (1953), and Gipsy at Greywalls (1955).

ANN CASTLETON (dates unknown)
Author of five girls' stories, four of them set in schools, often about girls discovering their true identities; titles include The Secret of Storm Abbey (1946), Bracken had a Secret (1947), The Witch's Wood (1948), Gen Finds a Family (1949), and That Holiday at School (1949).

DORA [BARR] CHAPMAN (1893-????)
(married name Francis, aka Dora B. Francis)
Author of about 10 girls' school stories noted by Sims and Clare for their relative realism; these include That Rebellious Schoolgirl (1924), An Eventful Term (1927), That Detestable New Girl (1931), Jennifer of Croft House (1934), and, under her pseudonym, The Knights of Study 13 (1935).

ANNE CHESNEY (dates unknown)
More research needed; the author of a single girls' school tale, Leslie Wins Through (1947).

ALICE M. CHESTERTON (dates unknown)
Author of two girls' stories set at a domestic affairs college—Whittenbury College (1915) and Christal's Adventure (1919); she also published books for young children and several other girls' stories, including Rhondda's Holiday (1909), Miss Netherby's Niece (1912), and The Pansy Patch (1912).

(pseudonym of Mamie Muhlenkamp, aka Patience Gilmour)
Author of girls’ fiction, often with Guide themes; three—The Marigolds Make Good (1937), A Schoolgirl from Hollywood (1939), and The School at Emery’s End (1944)—have school themes; others include Diana Takes a Chance (1940), The Seventh Magpie (1946), and Phyllida's Fortune (1947).

Renée CLARKE (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single school story, A Turbulent Term (1948), which was originally subtitled "A Girls' School Mystery & Adventure Story."

Author of school stories and other children's fiction; Sims and Clare note her tendency toward unrealistic "thriller plots"; titles include A Term at Crossways (1939), A School Goes to Scotland (1944), Holly House School (1947), The School in the Dell (1948), and The Merryfield Mystery (1960).

DOROTHY M[ARY]. CLEWES (1907-2003)
(née Parkin, aka Dorothy Parkin)
Prolific author of fiction for children and adults from a debut school story, The Rivals of Maidenhurst (1925), published when she was 17, to at least the 1970s; others include The Wild Wood (1945), Summer Cloud (1951), The Jade Green Cadillac (1958), and Storm Over Innish (1972).

SUSAN CLIFFORD (dates unknown)
Author of a single girls' school story, The Mugwump (1930); apparently her only other published work was an activity book called Plans: A Book for Holidays and a Cure for "What-Shall-We-Do-Next?" (1929), which had either a sequel or a reprint called What Shall We Do Next? (1931).

RITA COATTS (1883-1955)
(full name Marguerite Harcourt Coatts, née Burrage)
From a family of boys' authors, Coatts wrote more than a dozen girls' school stories and 15 children's thrillers, including The Taming of Patricia (1934), Facing It Out (1937), Jane of Cherry Barn (1938), The Wrong School (1949), Room for One More (1950), and Breaking Bounds (1951).

(aka Peter Fraser)
Author of numerous children's books which Sims & Clare describe as "evangelistic," including the school stories Wendy of Glendorran (1951), Penelope's Secret (1953), At the King's Command (1953), The Cardinals of Cobleigh Manor (1958), and several pseudonymous boys' school stories.

JOYCE COLMER (dates unknown)
Author of a single girls' school story, Rosemary to the Rescue (1925), notable—according to Sims and Clare—primarily for its virulent anti-Semitism.

HEATHER CORNISH (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, Dumps Takes Charge (1948).

THEODORA CORNISH (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, One Term: A Tale of Manor House School (1910).

GRACE COUCH (dates unknown)
Co-author, with Deirdre O'Brien, of a single girls' school story, New Girls at Lowmead (1945), and author of several books for younger children; Sims and Clare list her name as "Crouch," but this appears to be an error.

E[DITH]. E[LISE]. COWPER (c1860-1933)
Author of school stories, Guide stories, and other mystery and adventure tales ("in the Bessie Marchant tradition," according to Sims and Clare); titles include The Island of Rushes (1912), The Mystery Term (1923), The Holiday School (1927), and The Lodge in the Wood (1932).

JANE CRANSTON (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, First-Term Rebel (1955).

ISABEL CRAWFORD (dates unknown)
Author of four more or less girls' school stories; Phoebe's First Term (1928) and Phoebe & Company (1931) focus on a single character, while Willowmeads (1932) and Lola's Exploration (1933) tell two separate stories set at a single school; Sims and Clare appreciated Crawford's humor.

BRENDA CROSS (dates unknown)
(aka B. Cross)
Author of school stories featuring a movie star's daughter, which Sims and Clare found reminiscent of Nancy Breary—Barbara's Worst Term (1950) and Barbara in the Lower Fifth (1953). Cross may have had ties to the film industry herself as she also wrote a book about The Film Hamlet (1948).


  1. Scott, what treasures. I love these covers, and of course they are just the tip of a huge iceberg. The Forbidden Island.... The White Witch of Rosel... the Web on the Loom (looks more like a book about union activism than a girls' school.) They all look so delicious.

    Thanks for finding these.

  2. I must say, in many of the titles, it is the artwork that just captivates me! Happy hunting! Tom

  3. I highly recommend any novel by E.E. Cowper. Her books are sensitive and humorous. They only differ from adult novels in that she doesn't always have a romance. A very thoughtful writer.

  4. I have a date of 1908- for Elisabeth Batt, but don't remember where I found it, so can't be 100 per cent sure of its accuracy.

  5. Marjorie Buckingham was my Aunt.She was on an australian tv news item as being the oldest, circa 80yo, to obtain a degree in theology.

  6. Not sure if this helps, but I have a copy of Susie's Schooldays with a dedication I'm the front dated 1913 🙂


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