Saturday, December 12, 2015

Update to the Grownup School Story List

One of my own happiest discoveries in doing
this list; I've now enjoyed all four of Walsh's
charming Imogen Quy mysteries

At long last, I have managed, based on many wonderful suggestions from readers, to update my Grownup School Story List. I've discovered a few new titles on my own, but most of the changes come from the comments and emails I received from all of you.

A new addition courtesy of
an anonymous commenter

A couple of people who commented with suggestions chose to remain anonymous, so thank you to those Anons (one of whom also recommended the Paul Bailey biography, Three Queer Lives, which I have since very much enjoyed). In addition, warm thanks to Frances, Brian Busby, Barbara from Call Me Madam, Jerri, Gina in Alabama, Foose, Sue in Suffolk, Cassandra Lin, and Jenefer. (And thanks to anyone else I've failed to keep track of but who also made suggestions.) I also, thanks to a heads-up from Jerri, removed a Clara Benson title based on the newly-revealed fact that the author, whoever it might be, is in fact contemporary, not from the 1930s at all. Regardless of the quality of the novels (I have not and will not be sampling them), fraud leaves rather a bad taste in my mouth, so I have chosen not to keep her (if it is even a woman) in the section for more recent titles of interest, and I will also be removing Benson from my main list and my Mystery List.

A new addition to the list courtesy of Brian Busby
(and, truth be told, an image stolen from his blog)

Should any of you (or anyone else) come across additional titles that fit the list, please do let me know.

The updated list is below (the original list is still here). I hope it leads you to additional reading pleasure!


RUTH ADAM, I'm Not Complaining (1938)

Depression-era grammar school.

MABEL ESTHER ALLAN, Here We Go Round (1954)

Grammar school. Recently reprinted by Girls Gone By.

VERILY ANDERSON, Daughters of Divinity (1960)

Memoir. University (?).


New Zealand. Grammar school.

MARY BELL, Summer's Day (1951)

Girls' boarding school.

FRANCES BELLERBY, Shadowy Bricks (1932)

Progressive school.

WINIFRED BLAZEY, Grace Before Meat (1942)

Village school.

EDWARD CANDY, Parents' Day (1967)

Coed boarding school.

HESTER W. CHAPMAN, Long Division (1943)

Boys' prep school.

HESTER W. CHAPMAN, Ever Thine (1951)

Boys' prep school.

IVY COMPTON-BURNETT, More Women than Men (1933)

Girls' boarding school.

ELIZABETH COXHEAD, A Play Toward (1952)

Village grammar school.

CLEMENCE DANE, Regiment of Women (1917)

Girls' boarding school.

ANNA DE BARY, Letters of a Schoolma'am (1913)

Possibly non-fiction? Uncertain of type of school.

VERA G. DWYER, A War of Girls (1915)

Australian. Uncertain of type of school.

MENNA GALLIE, Man's Desiring (1960)

University. "Comedy of contrasts about a Welsh man and an English woman at a Midlands university."

RUTH M. GOLDRING, Ann's Year (1933)

University. "[A] story combining school and business life in its period."

RUTH M. GOLDRING, Educating Joanna (1935)


HELEN HAMILTON, The Iconoclast (1917)

About a schoolteacher's romance. Uncertain of type of school.

MARGARET HASSETT, Educating Elizabeth (1937)

Girls' boarding school.

MARGARET HASSETT, Beezer's End (1949)

Girls' boarding school. Sequel to Educating Elizabeth.

RENÉE HAYNES, Neapolitan Ice (1932)


ROSE MARIE HODGSON, Rosy-Fingered Dawn (1934)

University. Described by Anna Bogen as an "experimental university novel."

PRISCILLA JOHNSTON, The Narrow World (1930)

Girls' boarding school.


Girls' boarding school. Sequel to The Narrow World (?).

BEL KAUFMAN, Up the Down Staircase (1965)

American. Inner city high school.

ELIZABETH LAKE, The First Rebellion (1952)

Girls' convent boarding school.

MADELEINE L'ENGLE, A Small Rain (1945)

American. First section set in Swiss boarding school.

JOAN LINDSAY, Picnic at Hanging Rock (1967)

Australia. Women's college.

CHRISTINE LONGFORD, Making Conversation (1931)

Part girls' boarding school, part Oxford.

LILIAN VAUX MACKINNON, Miriam of Queen's (1921)

Canada. University. Set around the turn of the century at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. See Brian Busby's review here.

ROSEMARY MANNING, The Chinese Garden (1962)

Girls' boarding school.

MARGARET MASTERMAN, Gentleman's Daughters (1931)

Girls' school.

MARY NICHOLSON, Itself to Please (1953)

University. Set at Oxford in the 1930s.

KATE O'BRIEN, The Land of Spices (1941)

Girls' convent boarding school.

FRANCES GRAY PATTON, Good Morning, Miss Dove (1954)

American. Small town grammar school.

WINIFRED PECK, Winding Ways (1951)

Girls' boarding school.

SUSAN PLEYDELL, Summer Term (1959)

Boys' boarding school.

SUSAN PLEYDELL, A Young Man's Fancy (1962)

Boys' boarding school. Sequel to Summer Term.

HENRY HANDEL RICHARDSON, The Getting of Wisdom (1910)

Australian. Girls' boarding school.

DORA SAINT (aka MISS READ), Village School (1955)

Village grammar school.

ELEANOR SCOTT, War Among Ladies (1928)

Girls' high school.

BARBARA SILVER, Our Young Barbarians, or, Letters from Oxford (1935)

University. Review describes "faithful chronicling of a fairly ordinary routine."

MAY SMITH, These Wonderful Rumours!: A Young Schoolteacher's Wartime Diaries 1939-1945 (2012)

Diary. Elementary school.

MURIEL SPARK, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)

Girls' boarding school.

D. E. STEVENSON, Summerhills (1956)

In part about setting up a boys' school.

DOROTHY STRACHEY (aka OLIVIA), Olivia (1949)

Girls' boarding school in France.

MARY STURT, Be Gentle to the Young (1937)


NETTA SYRETT, A School Year (1902)




ANGELA THIRKELL, Summer Half (1937)

Boys' boarding school.

ANNE TRENEER, A Stranger in the Midlands (1952)

Memoir. Girls' high school in Birmingham.

ROSALIND WADE, Children Be Happy (1931)


ANTONIA WHITE, Frost in May (1933)

Girls' convent school.

MARY WILKES, The Only Door Out (1945)


D[OROTHY]. WYNNE WILLSON, Early Closing (1931)

Boys' boarding school.


LOIS AUSTEN-LEIGH, The Incredible Crime (1931)

University. "[A] witty take on academic life in Cambridge." (Soon to be reprinted by British Library Crime Classics.)

JOSEPHINE BELL, The Summer School Mystery

Summer school for music students.

JOSEPHINE BELL, Death at Half Term (1939)

Boys' boarding school.

DOROTHY BOWERS, Fear and Miss Betony (1941)

Wartime girls' boarding school.

JANET CAIRD, Murder Scholastic (1967)

Scottish secondary school.

AGATHA CHRISTIE, Cat Among the Pigeons (1959)

Girls' boarding school.

EILEEN HELEN CLEMENTS, Cherry Harvest (1943)

Wartime girls' boarding school evacuated to a country manor house.

AMANDA CROSS, The Theban Mysteries (1971)

American girls' school.

ANTONIA FRASER, Quiet as a Nun (1977)

Girls' convent school.

MAVIS DORIEL HAY, Death on the Cherwell (1935)


P. D. JAMES, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972)

Cambridge. Only somewhat college-related.

ELIZABETH LEMARCHAND, Death of an Old Girl (1967)

Girls' boarding school.

ELIZABETH LEMARCHAND, The Affacombe Affair (1968)

Girls' prep school.

HELEN MCCLOY, Through a Glass Darkly (1949)

American. Girls' boarding school.

GLADYS MITCHELL, Death at the Opera (1934)

Coed day school.

GLADYS MITCHELL, St. Peter's Finger (1938)

Girls' convent boarding school.

GLADYS MITCHELL, Laurels Are Poison (1942)

Girls' training college.

GLADYS MITCHELL, Tom Brown’s Body (1949)

Boys' boarding school.

GLADYS MITCHELL, Convent on Styx (1975)

Girls' convent boarding school.

DOROTHY L. SAYERS, Gaudy Night (1935)


NANCY SPAIN, Poison for Teacher (1949)

Girls' boarding school.

JOSEPHINE TEY, Miss Pym Disposes (1946)

Girls' physical training college.

ETHEL LINA WHITE, The Third Eye (1937)

First part set in girls' boarding school.

MARGARET YORKE, series featuring Patrick Grant (1980s)



NICHOLAS BLAKE, A Question of Proof (1935)

Boys' boarding school.

LEO BRUCE, Carolus Deene series

Boys' boarding school.

W. J. BURLEY, A Taste of Power (1967)

Grammar school.

MILES BURTON, Murder in the Coalhole (1940)

Grammar school (but no students appear).

MILES BURTON, Murder Out of School (1951)

Boys' prep school.

CHRISTOPHER BUSH, The Case of the Dead Shepherd (1934)

Coed high school.

V. C. CLINTON-BADDELEY, Dr. Davie series


EDMUND CRISPIN, Gervase Fen series


GLYNN DANIEL, The Cambridge Murders (1945)

Cambridge (obviously).

S. F. X. DEAN, Professor Kelly series

University. New England college.

D. DEVINE, His Own Appointed Day (1965)

Scottish high school.

MICHAEL GILBERT, The Night of the Twelfth (1976)

Boys' school.

D. DEVINE, His Own Appointed Day (1965)

Scottish high school.

MICHAEL GILBERT, The Night of the Twelfth (1976)

Boys' school.

REGINALD HILL, An Advancement of Learning (1971)


JAMES HILTON, Murder at School (1931)

Boys' boarding school. (Author of Lost Horizon.)

JOHN LE CARRÉ, A Murder of Quality (1962)

Boys' boarding school.

NORMAN LONGMATE, A Head for Death (1958)

Boys' school? Coed?

J. C. MASTERMAN, An Oxford Tragedy (1933)


KENNETH MILLAR (aka ROSS MACDONALD), The Dark Tunnel (1944)

American. University. See Brian Busby's review here.

SIMON OKE, The Hippopotamus Takes Wing (1952)

Convent school.

STUART PALMER, Hildegarde Withers series

Withers is a schoolteacher, but books feature few scenes in school

Q PATRICK, Death Goes to School (1936)

Boys' school.

IVAN ROSS, Teacher's Blood (1964)

American high school.

ERIC SHEPHERD, Murder in a Nunnery (1940)

Convent school.

ERIC SHEPHERD, More Murder in a Nunnery (1954)

Convent school.


EVE BUNTING, Spying on Miss Muller (1995)

General fiction/thriller. Belfast girls' boarding school during WWII.

SARAH CAUDWELL, Hilary Tamar series (1980s)

Mystery. Law school

PAMELA DEAN, Tam Lin (1991)

Fantasy. University. Combines a young woman's life at college with a retelling of the traditional Scottish fairy ballad "Tam Lin".

RUTH DUDLEY EDWARDS, Matricide at St. Martha's (1994)

Mystery. Cambridge. One of Edwards' Robert Amiss mysteries, this time in a university setting.

BETH GUTCHEON, The New Girls (1979)

General fiction. American girls' prep school in the 1960s.

JOANNE HARRIS, Gentlemen and Players (2005)

Mystery. Boys' boarding school.

HAZEL HOLT, The Cruellest Month (1991)

Mystery. Oxford.

HAZEL HOLT, Murder on Campus (1994, aka Mrs. Malory: Detective in Residence)

Mystery. American university.

RONA JAFFE, Class Reunion

General fiction. University. Brain candy partly set at Radcliffe in the 1950s.

ANGELA LAMBERT, No Talking After Lights (1990)

Girls' boarding school. Semi-autobiographical novel based on Lambert's own unhappy school days.

ARTHUR MARSHALL, Girls Will Be Girls (1974)

Perhaps not strictly fitting this list, but definitely of interest. This is a compilation of Marshall's humorous writings about school stories.

CLARE MORRALL, After the Bombing (2014)

General fiction. Girls' school. Set partly in 1942 and partly in 1963. Reviewed by Call Me Madam here.

ROBIN STEVENS, Wells & Wong mysteries (2013-present)

Mystery series set in a 1930s girls' boarding school, featuring two schoolgirl detectives.

DONNA TARTT, The Secret History (1992)

Bestselling thriller set at a posh Vermont college.

JILL PATON WALSH, Lapsing (1986)

Early non-mystery by Walsh, about a young undergraduate at Oxford in the 1950s, whose romantic travails lead her into a crisis of faith.

JILL PATON WALSH, Imogen Quy mysteries (1993-2007)

Series of four smart, cozy, Mrs. Malory-esque mysteries whose main character is a nurse at a Cambridge college.

JILL PATON WALSH, The Late Scholar (2013)

One of Walsh's new mysteries featuring Dorothy Sayers' Peter Wimsey; this one takes place primarily at Oxford

JACQUELINE WINSPEAR, A Lesson in Secrets (2011)

Mystery. Cambridge. One of Winspear's Maisie Dobbs mysteries.


  1. I can certainly attest to the wonderfulness of some of these novels, which I would NEVER have stumbled across, had it not been for Scott's overwhelming lists. In particulalr, I loved LeMarchand's Death of an Old Girl!
    IF you ever get into more contemporary MEN, there is a Robert Barnard mystery you might enjoy, set against a boy's school, School for Murder (which, peskily enough was also released as Little Victims!) Tom

  2. Miss Read/Dora Saint's Village Diary and Storm in the Village also fit your time criteria, I believe, though the sequels [many] are more recent. They are first person narratives from the point of view of the head teacher. But it wasn't a grammar school - or at least not in the sense we understand one in UK. It was a village school - which means it took pupils from ages 5 to 11. Grammar Schools [which were in many cases closed down and/or turned into Comprehensive schools in the 1970s] were for 11 to 18-year-olds. Her Fresh from the Country also qualifies, I think ... see

  3. I've always liked the cover illustration of Miriam of Queen's, Scott, so much so that I spent a fruitless hour or two trying to determine whether the train station depicted actually matches that of fin de siècle Kingston.

    Your readers may be interested in knowing that just a few days ago, by great coincidence, John Norris posted a very good review of Q Patrick's Death Goes to School. It can be found here on his Pretty Sinister Books blog. More great covers!

  4. My comment echoes Abbeybufo; the term 'grammar school' in the US generally equates to 'primary school' in the UK. A real grammar school was where one went to learn Latin grammar, after having learnt the rudiments of letters, numbers, etc. Latin Grammar schools still exist in the US. The first school in the US was the Boston Latin School, founded in 1635 and going strong today; its counterpart, the Girls' Latin School was not founded until 1876, but still exists as Boston Latin Academy. There were others, but those still extant are now privately funded schools such as Roxbury Latin and the Chicago Boys' Latin School.

  5. Have you read 'Shady Cloister' by Winifred Lear? 1950 Set in a girls' boarding school, from the point of view of a young teacher. Sharp observation of staff and pupils with mild, though unfounded scandal. I enjoy your blog.

    1. No, I haven't ever come across that one, but you can bet I'm going to add it to my list now! Thanks very much for mentioning it. I also notice that her other novel The Causeway is set partly during the Blitz, so she may end up being added to two of my subject lists. Thanks again!

  6. My apologies to everyone else who commented here. Until I got the anonymous comment on Winifred Lear, I didn't realize I had left comments here without replies (though I remember seeing these comments and intending to respond at the time, so there was just a mental glitch somewhere). Sorry, and thanks for your comments!

  7. Sorry no new titles but I must object to the inclusion of Sarah Cauldwell. Although her detective is a law professor, all the action takes place off campus in a set of barristers' chambers Sally


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 I do want to hear from you!