The lacrosse and midnight feasts of boarding school novels are far removed from real life for most of us. So why does our love of such girlhood fiction endure?
On page 86 of September’s The Simple Things, we look at the school run of days gone by - from The Worst Witch to the Chalet School.
Here, we outline how to build your own Malory Towers. Our fictitious boarding school primer sets out the jolly necessary ingredients
Must be flawed but only to a small extent. Will either start off hating the school (see the O’Sullivan Twins and Elizabeth, The Naughtiest Girl in the School) or will be desperate to please but have to work to overcome said character flaw (see Darrell and her oft-referenced hot temper).
The most disliked girl in the school will usually have committed a crime so heinous as to scoff an entire box of chocs in bed or be secretly working class and ‘put on airs and graces’. See Pauline at St Clare’s who is ‘outed’ as working class when her mother visits and is mistaken for a school cook – the shame... Basically, being cowardly, nouveau riche or a little plump is equal to being Carlos the Jackal in boarding school land.
Usually has short hair and is ‘as brown as an acorn’ (to make clear her love of the outdoors). May well have 16 older brothers.
THE GLAMOROUS AMERICAN
Will have a ‘drawl’ which grates on the other girls and probably aspirations of becoming
a Hollywood actress. Usually is also lazy and dislikes PE.
THE DOESN’T-GET-IT FRENCH PUPIL
Tends to be ‘dark’ to denote some sort of European exoticism. Will have a hilarious accent and mispronounce words to the delight of her peers who all have English
as a first language and consider themselves superior in this respect.
THE SOLID AND KIND HEADMISTRESS
Generally all headmistresses are solid and kind. Miss Grayling of Malory Towers, particularly so.
Usually identical to ensure maximum confusion and top japes.
Probably has ‘sparkling eyes’ to show their good-humoured mischief and a tuck box full of fake dog poo, invisible string and itching powder.
Must be of an artistic bent, for example, skilled in music or painting. Being academic is merely expected.