Tuesday, February 17, 2015

UPDATE: School story authors (N-R)

My fifth update on school story writers who were added to the Overwhelming List in the last big update contains an array of intriguing titles, some of which I'm pretty sure I'll be sampling, and others of which seem to have virtually ceased to exist, as even Abe Books booksellers don't seem to have copies available.

Who could resist M. C. RAMSAY's only school story, Betty Bruce, Beverley Scholar, after Sims and Clare's conclusion about it that "any story in which the villainess (daughter of a War profiteer) tries to throw the heroine's Stradivarius out of the window on the first day of term is certain to keep its readers interested"? And Sims and Clare also assure me that FREDA RUSSELL's two school stories—The Island School and Dormitory No. 19—"should not be missed by anyone who enjoys daft thrillers," which I can only assume would include me.

There was bound to be trouble when
Theo joined the Knights Templar...

The stories of DOROTHY MARY RICE (who also wrote as Dorothy Vicary) seem to stand out from the crowd, so she may need to be added to my TBR list. And MARTHA ROBINSON's two school stories, High School and Three Friends, which stress realism and day-to-day school life, would certainly be high on my list if it were only possible to locate copies anywhere.

What on earth do we think is happening here?

ETHEL NOKES wrote children's fiction more generally as well as a trilogy of school stories—The Fourth Form Gang (1932), The Fourth Form Gang Again (1935), and Sally of the Fourth Form Gang (1938)—which sound intriguing. Sims and Clare note that although one of the main characters wants to be a missionary like her parents, the books manage to avoid heavy-handed piety.

And I was quite pleased to notice that EDITH EMILIE OHLSON's Pippa at Brighton, the first of her series of four novels which follow a single character from school days to marriage, is available for free downloading at the Hathi Trust. Few enough school stories seem to be available there, so finding one—especially one that Sims and Clare single out as particularly charming—is a bit like getting a surprise gift.

SHEILA M. PAGE's two school stories reportedly have some characteristics in common with Elinor Brent-Dyer, but with rather more exotic and/or far-fetched plots. And for those who enjoy exotic settings in their school stories, surely ELIZABETH PRITCHARD's The School in the Himalayas would be a good candidate.

WINIFRED NORLING is one of the most prolific school story authors from this update, and I wonder how I had missed her before. Sims and Clare note that "[a] Norling story is rarely boring, even if it is never believable," and I'm looking forward to sampling one (or more) of her books. Perhaps The Worst Fifth on Record? Or Six Sinners at St Swithun's sounds rather enticing. And MARY LOUISE PARKER was also prolific, racking up more than 20 school stories that Sims and Clare say are densely-plotted and energetic.

There don't seem to be a large number of school authors who are not only Scottish themselves but also write about Scottish schools, so JESS MARGARET PAGE piques my interest. All the more so as Sims and Clare point out that "her stories exemplify the characteristics associated with Scots: her strong conviction that life is real, earnest and there to be worked at (which does not preclude some sardonic humour); the emphasis on overcoming difficult circumstances, and the feeling that suffering is good for the soul and the ambition which she gives to almost all her heroines." I'm sold.

And finally, in my entry for DAPHNE RAMART on my Overwhelming List, I noted that perhaps she isn't deserving of inclusion at all, since her one book, Hilary's Difficult Term, is apparently a thorough plagiarism (word for word) of several works by Dorita Fairlie Bruce. But I suppose she does still count as a British woman who published fiction—albeit primarily someone else's!—and it's certainly an interesting curiosity.

MARGARET P. NEILL (dates unknown)
Author of one Christian-themed school story, Beauty for Ashes, or, The Sploancos and What They Did (1930), and several other works of children's fiction, such as Gwyneth at Work (1935), Secrets at Sidleigh (1936), Jean's Plan of Campaign (1937), and The Murrays of Moorsfoot (1939).

ANNA NEWMAN (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, Jenny & Co. in the Haunted Wing (1949).

MARJORIE W. NEWMAN (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of five girls' school stories of the 1920s and 1930s, including Scoring for the School (1929), Jean's Great Race (1929), Edna's Second Chance (1934), Sybil Makes Good (1936), and Jennifer Takes the Lead (1939).

NORMA NICOL (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, with the intriguing title Her School Godmother (1921).

ETHEL NOKES (dates unknown)
Author of three girls' school stories praised by Sims & Clare—The Fourth Form Gang (1932), The Fourth Form Gang Again (1935), and Sally of the Fourth Form Gang (1938)—as well as other children's fiction, including Grace Give-Away (1931), The House of Many Pages (1934), and The Girl Who Didn't Belong (1935).

(pseudonym of Winifred Mary Jakobsson)
Prolific author of girls' school stories which Sims & Clare find implausible but never boring; titles include Monica of St Monica's (1934), The Riddle of St Rolf's (1935), The Third's Thrilling Term (1936), Six Sinners at St Swithun's (1938), St Ann's on the Anvil (1947), and Pat of Perry's (1950).

S. H. NORTON (1903-????)
(pseudonym of Mary Kathleen Richardson)
Author of numerous biographies of religious figures and religious-themed books for younger children, she also wrote one school story, Annals of St Audrey's (1956), and another work of children's fiction, Odds and Ends (1959), about which I could find no details.

DEIRDRE O'BRIEN (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of Mary Elizabeth McNally, aka D. V. O'Brien)
Author of romantic fiction in the 1930s and 1940s, including titles like Love Knows No Death (1931), Only My Dreams (1932), Wives Are Like That (1936), and Unwanted Wife (1939), and later of two school stories, New Girls at Lowmead (1945) and The Three at St Christopher's (1947).

E[DITH]. E[MILIE]. OHLSON (c1865-c1948)
Author of a series of four first-person novels which follow their main character, Pippa, from school days to marriage, and which are praised by Sims & Clare; the books are Pippa at Brighton (1937), Pippa in Switzerland (1938), Pippa at Home (1940), and Pippa and James (1943).

IERNE ORMSBY (dates unknown)
More reseearch needed; author of two poetry collections, one girls' school story, Jane of the Crow's Nest (1936), and one other children's book, Wild West Sally (1939).

ALICE M. PAGE (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of several children's books, including the school story The Finding of Angela (1914) and another, Jackie's School Adventures (1925), which certainly sounds like a school story; others include Mr Marmalade's Secret (1908) and Curly Head in Search of a Mother (1914).

BRENDA PAGE (dates unknown)
Underrated (according to Sims & Clare) author of six school stories with relatively realistic plots and twist endings, including Schoolgirl Rivals (1927), Monica and the Fifth (1928), The Happy Few (1929), The Head Girl's Deputy (1930), Joan and the Scholarship Girl (1931), and Ruth at Rooksby (1932).

I'm encouraged by the fact that all of the authors
shown on the back cover of Brenda Page's
The Head Girl's Deputy are already on my
list (except for New Zealander Esther Glen)

J[ESS]. M[ARGARET]. PAGE (1924-1999)
(married name Campbell)
Author of two girls' school stories set in Scotland, The Three Elizabeths (1950) and The Twins on Trial (1951), with an interest in themes of heredity versus environment; Page was also involved in local politics in Dundee.

SHEILA M[ARJORIE]. PAGE (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of two frenetic girls' school stories, Marité on Mendip (1957) and Margot at Melsbury (1958).

MARY LOUISE PARKER (dates unknown)
Author of more than 20 girls' school stories with action-packed plots; titles include Pat of the Fifth (1927), Mollie of St Mildred's (1928), 'Miss Spitfire' at School (1931), One Thrilling Term (1934), A Jolly Trio (1935), The Triumphant Term (1939), and Suzette Wins Her Way (1947).

K. PATRICK (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, The Fourth Form Feud (1928).

CAROL ANN PEARCE (dates unknown)
Author of three interwoven girls' school stories focused on four friends and "amusing and largely realistic," according to Sims and Clare; these are Summer Term (1952), We're in the Sixth! (1960), and St Kelvern's Launches Out (1962).

W[INIFRED]. M[ARY]. PEARCE (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of religious-themed fiction and non-fiction, as well as one girl's school story, Mystery at St Olave's (1935) and other children's books, including David's Victory (1934), Accidents Will Happen (1937), and Lionel Wins Through (1938).

GRACE PETTMAN (1870-1951)
(married name Pout, aka Spencer Deane, aka Helen Kent, aka Nigel Strong)
Author of girls' school stories under her real name and as Helen Kent, boys' school stories as Spencer Deane, and at least one other children's book as Nigel Strong; titles include Only Helen (1931), Stella Seaton, Schoolgirl (1933), Eliot of the Border (1937), and The Mystery Prize (1939).

VANE POST (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of ?????)
More research needed; author of a single tale, Plantagenet Anne (1929), which traces the experiences of a pugilistic girl descended from royalty from boarding school to a German pensionnat and on to adulthood.

HILDA CUMINGS PRICE (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of two girls' stories not set in schools—Two's Company (1951) and The Queen's Tumbler (1961).

More research needed; author of two girls' school stories, The Mystery Girl at Maines (1956) and The School in the Himalayas (1961), and one boys' school story, The Jays to the Rescue (1957).

DAPHNE RAMART (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of ?????)
Perhaps not deserving of being on my list at all, Ramart's claim to fame, according to Sims & Clare, is that her one girls' school story, Hilary's Difficult Term (1949), is a thorough plagiarism (word for word) of several works by Dorita Fairlie Bruce.

M. C. RAMSAY (dates unknown)
Author of one girls' school story, Betty Bruce, Beverley Scholar (1926) (sensational but great fun, according to Sims & Clare), as well as several adult novels, including James Ogilvy's Experiment (1907), Stephen Martin, MD (1908), The Doctor's Angel (1914), and Was She Guilty? (1920).

MAUD D[OROTHY]. REED (dates unknown)
Children's writer and author of passion plays and nativity plays; two of her books, Angela at School (1946) and The New Girl at 'Fir Trees' (1948), are school stories; she later wrote a series with a heroine named Candy, beginning with It Was Candy's Idea (1955).

JEAN A[NGLIN]. REES (1912-1980)
Author of four "evangelistic" girls' school stories—Carol & Co. (1946), The Conways of Chelwood House (1951), Penelope and Jane (1952), and Carol and Nicola (1958), as well as adult novels including Madame Estelle (1956) and Wife of Hamish (1957), and several biographies.

LIZZIE C. REID (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, Jo Maxwell, Schoolgirl (1913) and several other girls' stories, including The Kidnapping of Ursula, or, Aunt Abigail's Mistake (1904), Jacyntha, A Merry-Hearted Girl (1905), and Roy of Daisydale, or, The Heir of Cragmere (1909).

DOROTHY MARY RICE (dates unknown)
(aka Dorothy Vicary)
Author of three early girls' school stories using her pseudonym—Good for Gracie! (1938), Niece of the Headmistress (1939), and Lucy Brown's Schooldays (1941)—and four later titles under her real name, including the school story A Secret at Sprayle (1955).

SALLY RILEY (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, The Madcap of St Monica's (1940s—exact date unknown).

MARTHA ROBINSON (dates unknown)
Author of two girls' school stories known for their realism and focus on ordinary school life—High School (1948) and Three Friends (1950); other children's titles include A House of Their Own (1949), Family Holiday (1951), Trouble at Talltrees (1953), and Matty in Films (1953).

Author of children's (and adult?) titles from 1890-1916, including school stories for both boys and girls; titles include How the Village Was Won (1890), Marjorie's Stranger (1897), The Oddity: A Story of High School Life (1901), Girls of the Red House (1909), and Eight Girls and Their Adventures (1916).

KATHLEEN ROSS (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, The Girls of Elville College (1917), which follows its main characters into early adulthood.

MARGARET ROWAN (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a single girls' school story, Thea and Her Secret Societies (1956).

MAUD ROWE (dates unknown)
(née ?????, aka Mrs. John G. Rowe)
More research needed; wife of boys' author John G. Rowe and author of two girls' school stories, The Girl Guides of St Ursula's (1926) and The Guides of Pexton School (1927).

FREDA RUSSELL (dates unknown)
Author of two girls' school stories—The Island School (1926) and Dormitory No. 19 (1926)—which, in Sims & Clare's words, "should not be missed by anyone who enjoys daft thrillers."

IVY RUSSELL (dates unknown)
Playwright and author of numerous children's books, including a school story—Four With a Purpose (1950); other titles include Megan of the Welsh Hills (1952), Princess Susan (1954), Highland Cousin (1957), The Inn of Mystery (1959), and The Unexpected Visitor (1962).


  1. Are you not counting Elsie J Oxenham? Her main [Abbey] series might not be 'school stories' but her Sussex, Swiss and Woody Dene sets certainly were, as well as several individual stories. Or have I missed her entry elsewhere, and this is just addenda?

    1. You know, Ruth, until your comment it had never occurred to me to do a full list of all the school authors, but I can't imagine why it hadn't. This series of updates are only the authors that were added to my main author list in its most recent update. EJO had already been included on the main list, along with some of the other major authors I had come across even before reading Sims & Clare, so I didn't list her hear. But a full genre list would have been a good idea. Perhaps in the future...

  2. Another lovely (and pretty) post! There are many books here I haven't read (but do see my blog on Carol Ann Pearce).

    Lucy Brown's Schooldays is one of my favourite school stories.
    I have all the Pippa books. I don't think they really count as school stories. I find them very funny; Pippa's good intentions so often land her in trouble but she sails blithely through life, always happy.

    1. Your blog is such a dangerous place--I just re-read your post on Pearce and have added two of her titles to my wish list--I have a feeling they won't stay there long... And after your recommendation I'm even happier that the first Pippa book was available online!

  3. I can supply a Norling or two as a bonus into the package which will emerge shortly from the icy room. I hope. There is currently a discussion running about her on the Girlsown Google Group. She doesn't seem to be much appreciated....One needs to be a member to access it I think.

    1. Oh I can't wait to see what comes from the icy room, Gil! I'm hoping for a mild heatwave in your neck of the woods so it's just a chilly room...

  4. ...oh and be careful to search for Girlsown google group and not any other punctuation of the phrase. Some tricky results emerge.....

    1. I can't seem to find this group, Gil. I'm probably going about it wrong, but would you have a link?

    2. Aha - it's a private group. I've just sent an invite to furrowed middlebrow. Hope it works!

    3. I'm in! At least I'm pretty sure I am. Thanks for the invite. I can see I'll be able to waste many hours there in the coming weeks. :-)

  5. Hi, Scott! I’m from Poland, and I just bought a Polish edition of one book written by Brenda Page. Do we have any informations about her? Can’t find anything, but I’m really curious!

    1. I know a bit more now. Check her entry on my author list linked from the left sided of the blog, "British & Irish" etc.


NOTE: The comment function on Blogger is notoriously cranky. If you're having problems, try selecting "Name/URL" or "Anonymous" from the "Comment as" drop-down (be sure to "sign" your comment, though, so I know who dropped by). Some people also find it easier using a browser like Firefox or Chrome instead of Internet Explorer.

But it can still be a pain, and if you can't get any of that to work, please email me at furrowed.middlebrow@gmail.com. I do want to hear from you!