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The Heirs of Tom Brown

Isabel Quigly
Date Published
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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.

‘An excellent guide to this curious but interesting chapter in social and literary history’ John Rae, Listener


Isabel Quigly was born in Spain. In addition to The Heirs of Tom Brown she has written a novel and a book on Charlie Chaplin. She has also translated many books from Italian, Spanish and French. For ten years she was the film critic for the Spectator. She continues to review for The Oldie.

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