13th March 1947. Jolly Hockey Sticks.
The writer L.T. Meade was voted the most popular author in the 1898 Girls’ Realm Magazine and is regarded a forerunner of such novelists of the genre as Angela Brazil who died Today in 1947.
One of the first to break away from the didactic, moralistic stories of the 19th century, Brazil wrote for the newly educated girls who had benefited from the 1904 and 1907 Education Acts.
Until the late 19thc middle class girls were educated at home under the control of mothers, governesses and older sisters, later at school their bonds were with similarly aged girls and none more so than in the mushrooming number of St. Trinians and Mallory Towers.
However professional educators were always uneasy, as they were with boys’ comics, with the independent minded, rebellious behaviour of the girls portrayed in the ‘boarding-school’ books with their arcane language, ‘rouse up you old bluebottle’, as with the distinct culture and impenetrable codes and customs.
The Angela Brazil girls were boisterous, self-policing, untroubled by prefects and teachers, having unusual names like Winona, Avelyn and Lesbia.
Basically as with the later anarchic, much filmed St. Trinians, the books appeared to constitute a threat to discipline; in 1936 the High Mistress at St.Paul’s, Ethel Strudwick, declared she was minded to ‘burn all these books’.
Brazil’s stories would have been read and inspired the likes of Eleanor Brent-Dyer with her Chalet School Stories, and later Enid Blyton’s, Malory Towers and St. Clare’s series, bringing joy to further generations.
The 1944 Education Act with its selective, day, state-schools took many students who might have previously gone to girls’ boarding schools, but not without an attempt to retain their ethos with gowned teachers, prefects and Houses.
However there would be no jolly japes and midnight ‘dorm’ feasts and soon education would be too serious for much fun at all.
theguardian.com.Angela Brazil Stories. Kathryn Hughes. 14.2.2015.