The Heirs of Tom Brown
In their heyday, the English public schools inspired an astonishing effusion of novels and stories about school life, of which
Tom Brown's Schooldays
is perhaps still the best known, and was certainly the most influential.
Continually counterpointing school life as it really was with its fictional image, Isabel Quigly discusses her chosen stories in relation to those themes which recur in the genre: the cult of games, the love story, the boarding school as a training ground for the Empire, schoolboy heroics and an extraordinary preoccupation with death. Her range is wide: from classics like Stalky & Co , Anstey's Vice Versa , and P. G. Wodehouse's school stories, to the schoolgirl tales of Angela Brazil: from nostalgic and snobbish accounts of Eton to Alec Waugh's daring and precocious novel, The Loom of Youth .
The Heirs of Tom Brown is an entertaining and original investigation into the literary, social and cultural history of the English school story.
Stephen Fry shows his appreciation for The Heirs of Tom Brown :
'Isabel Quigly's The Heirs of Tom Brown is, to my mind, the definitive book on the tradition of British schoolboy fiction that stretches from the Tom Brown of the title to - well, I suppose to Harry Potter . It is a genre for which I retain great affection. I have long held a high doctrine of the cultural importance, quality, influence, reach and social meaning of British school fiction and it has taken a long while for a writer, critic and reader as acute, elegant and insightful as Isabel Quigly to come along and make sense of this grand genre. Far and away the most readable, approachable and intelligent book ever written on the subject.'
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