The Fall of Doctor Onslow

Frances Vernon
Date Published
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The Fall of Doctor Onslow (1994) was the sixth and final novel by Frances Vernon (1963-91). Published posthumously, it is perhaps her finest work. Set in 1858, it is the story of Dr George Onslow, reformist headmaster of a leading public school, who harbours private passions that are fated to be the death of his life’s ambition.

‘A searing indictment of the process of education… The narrative is tersely written in a style that successfully captures Victorian restraint and its stifling sensibilities.’ Ben Preston, The Times

‘A remarkable work, written with spirit and erudition… It is difficult to believe when reading it that the author was a child of our times and did not actually live in the middle of the last century: she recreates that world so vividly, with such understanding of its characters, such an ear for its speech, such feeling for its attitudes and taboos.’ Jill Delay, Tablet


Frances Vernon was born on December 1 1963, and raised on the Sudbury Estate in Derbyshire. At the age of 18 she embarked upon a writing career, and would complete six novels in the space of ten years. Privileged Children (1982) won the Author’s Club Award for Best First Novel, and the Daily Express praised its ‘genuine sparkle and invention.’…

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