Prep School Children : A Class Apart Over Two Centuries Hardback
Since the days when nine-year-old Tom Brown set off by stage coach to be prepared for entry to Rugby, middle-class British boys have been sent away to prep school.
Here children between the ages of seven and thirteen have been systematically groomed for public school, for gentlemanly life, for military service, for colonial rule and for worldly or, in the case of Harry Potter, wizardly success.
In a compelling and sometimes shocking account, Vyvyen Brendon dwells not on the adult purposes behind a peculiarly British institution but on the lives of the children.
This book continues the poignant story about the separation of parents from offspring which the author told in her acclaimed "Children of the Raj".
But it focuses, with greater empathy than ever before, on the unique nature of the prep school experience both at home and in outposts of the empire.
More than two hundred youngsters appear in these pages, describing their schooldays through memoirs, letters, diaries, poetry, fiction and interviews.
The impressions left, whether happy or miserable, comic or tragic, were indelible. The smell of stale tobacco, which lingered in the nostrils of so many old boys, may evoke the genial bedtime stories of one headmaster or the savage beatings of another.
Mention the old school and some former inmates conjure up an idyll of japes in the dorm and golden afternoons on the cricket field; others shudder at the memory of what one bullied ex-pupil called 'a Belsen of the spirit'.
Such responses were seldom expressed at the time for, according to the ancient maxim, children should be seen but not heard.
This book gives them a voice. In doing so it reveals a neglected area in the history of childhood and casts a sharp beam of light on the national character.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 256 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- Publication Date: 13/10/2009
- Category: British & Irish history
- ISBN: 9781847062871
- PDF from £22.57