The Best Boarding School Fiction

By Walden Pond Books

By Walden Pond Books
The Governess: Or, Little Female Academy, by the Author of David Simple

The Governess: Or, Little Female Academy, by the Author of David Simple

Sarah Fielding

$34.49

It's significant that the very first full-length novel specifically written for children (1749) was a boarding school story. Set in northern England at a small (limited to nine students) fictional girls' boarding school (unnamed) run by Mrs. Teachum.

Villette

Villette

Charlotte Bronte

$14.00

A friendless orphan leaves England to teach at Mme. Beck's 'pensionnat', a fictional girls' boarding school in the fictional city of Villette in the fictional country of Labassecour. Despite her resolve to remain independent and emotionally unattached, she finds romance with a fellow teacher. First published in 1853, Charlotte Bronte's third and last novel is based on the author's experience teaching at a 'pensionnat' in Brussels, Belgium in 1842 at the age of 26. Critics have opined that this book's literary merits rival - even exceed - Bronte's earlier "Jane Eyre".

Tom Brown's Schooldays

Tom Brown's Schooldays

Thomas Hughes

$11.95 $11.11

This is the book that launched the popularity of the "boarding school book" genre and is set at Rugby School in Warwickshire, England, the author's alma mater. The character of Tom Brown is based on the author's brother, George Hughes. The novel also features Dr. Thomas Arnold, who was headmaster of Rugby School from 1828 to 1841. "Tom Brown's Schooldays" revolutionized secondary education in England. One of the most influential of all boarding school novels, its publication in 1857 resulted in the wide-spread adoption of Dr. Arnold's enlightened educational philosophy and reforms.

Nicholas Nickleby

Nicholas Nickleby

Charles Dickens

$10.00 $9.30

An exposé of school brutality, this was one of the few novels of the 19th century that did NOT present a boarding school as an idyllic utopia. The titular hero teaches at Dotheboys Hall, a fictional boys' boarding school in Yorkshire based on Bowes Academy, an actual Yorkshire school which was the subject of Victorian era scandal.

The Fifth Form at Saint Dominic's (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press)

The Fifth Form at Saint Dominic's (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press)

Talbot Baines Reed

$28.99

A novel originally serialized in "The Boy's Own Paper", an early example of boarding school fiction popular with British children in the late 19th century. Set at Saint Dominic's, a fictional boys' public school inspired by the author's imagination (Talbot Baines Reed never attended a boarding school).

The Complete Stalky & Co.

The Complete Stalky & Co.

Rudyard Kipling

$11.95 $11.11

Set at an unnamed English public school known only as "the College" or "the Coll", based on the actual United Services College attended by the author as a boy. First published in 1899, the book collects nine short stories which had previously appeared in magazines. Kipling's portrayal of the boys as worldly, cynical, sometimes cruel adolescents was not met with favor by many critics of the time, and probably accounts for what a fresh and entertaining read the book still is over a century later.

The Pothunters

The Pothunters

P. G. Wodehouse

$10.91

Set at St. Austin's, a fictional English boys' boarding school. Also the setting for Wodehouse's short story collection, "Tales of St. Austin's". This was Wodehouse's very first published novel (1902) and his comic genius is already in evidence.

Tales of St. Austin's

Tales of St. Austin's

P. G. Wodehouse

$9.99

Set at St. Austin's, a fictional English boys' boarding school. These short stories first appeared in the children's magazines, "The Captain" and "Public School Magazine", then published in book form in 1904. Also the setting for Wodehouse's first novel, "The Pothunters".

The Loom of Youth (Dodo Press)

The Loom of Youth (Dodo Press)

Alec Waugh

$23.99

This was Alec Waugh's first book, written when he was 17. Its depiction of the physical and mental cruelty meted out to boarding school students by their masters and peers made it one of the most sensationalized novels published just before World War I. Set at Fenhurst, a fictional English boys' school obviously based on Sherborne School, a 1300-year-old boys' school in Dorset. So obviously that the author remains the only former student ever expelled from the alumni society (The Old Shirburnian Society).

The Jolliest School of All - A School Story

The Jolliest School of All - A School Story

Angela Brazil

$14.94

A 1922 novel set at Villa Camellia, a fictional boarding school in Naples, run by Englishwomen exclusively for British and American girls. Angela Brazil was one of the most popular of all the boarding school story authors of the early 20th century. Like some other British books of the era, this title contains elements of xenophobia and Anglo-Saxon supremacy to which most of its contemporary readers were probably oblivious. (This is the American title - it was first published in the U.K. as "The School in the South".)

The Nicest Girl in the School (Edited)

The Nicest Girl in the School (Edited)

Angela Brazil and Arthur Augustus Dixon

$14.00

Angela Brazil's most popular book epitomizes the girls' boarding school story of the era. This is the edition edited for modern readers and is free of the disquieting elements referenced in "The Jolliest School of All" (see above). Set at Morton Priory, a fictional girls boarding school presumably in the English country town of Morton (historically known as the geographic center of England).

Decline and Fall

Decline and Fall

Evelyn Waugh

$16.99 $15.80

Set at Llanabba, a fictional boys' school in Wales based on Lancing College, an actual school in West Sussex attended by the author as a boy. Focusing on the misadventures of the Llanabba teachers, this was Waugh's debut novel - it is a must-read book on any list!

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

James Hilton

$18.99 $17.66

James Hilton's classic novel is set at the Brookfield School, a fictional boys' English public school based on the Leys School in Cambridge, attended by the author as a boy. One of the best portrayals in fiction of the career of a boarding school teacher.

Naughtiest Girl in the School: Book 1

Naughtiest Girl in the School: Book 1

Enid Blyton

$10.99 $10.22

This first of Enid Blyton's boarding school books, and the first novel in the four-book Naughtiest Girl series, was first published in 1940 and has just been reprinted for American readers. Featuring the exploits of young heroine Elizabeth Allen, the series is set at the fictional Whyteleafe School (purportedly based on Summerhill School in Suffolk). The first of Blyton's six novels in the St. Clare's series, "The Twins at St. Clare's", appeared in 1941, featuring the twin sisters Patricia and Isabel O'Sullivan. In 1946 Enid Blyton launched the first in her six-book Malory Towers series based on the exploits of schoolgirl Darrell Rivers, "First Term at Malory Towers". During Blyton's lifetime these three series were by far the most popular of all boarding school books with young readers. Though the vast majority of her books are now out of print in the U.S., Enid Blyton remains the most translated children's author in history with her books having sold more than 500 million copies.

Jennings Abounding!

Jennings Abounding!

Hector Cortes, William Gomez, et al.

$15.54

Set at Linbury Court, a fictional boys' boarding school in a small English country town. Enormously popular with young readers in the U. K. during the '50s and '60s, of the more than 20 Jennings books written by Anthony Buckeridge, the only one remaining in print in the U.S. is this adaptation into a stage play.

Olivia

Olivia

Dorothy Strachey

$15.00 $13.95

Set at Les Avons, a fictional French finishing school for girls based on Les Ruches, the girls' school in Fontainebleau, France attended by the author. This was Dorothy Strachey's only book and is still one of the most insightful novels dealing with student/teacher infatuation.

The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

J. D. Salinger

$9.99 $9.29

(American kids go to boarding schools, too.) The first seven chapters take place at Pencey Preparatory Academy, a fictional boys' boarding school in the fictional town of Agers, Pennsylvania, and set the scene for Holden Caulfield's expulsion and subsequent adventures. Pencey is probably based on Valley Forge Military Academy, a Pennsylvania boarding school attended by the author.

A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace

John Knowles

$17.00 $15.81

John Knowles's classic work is set at the Devon School - a fictional New Hampshire boys' boarding school based on Phillips Exeter Academy, the author's alma mater. This was the first major American novel to employ a boarding school as its primary setting.

Cat Among the Pigeons

Cat Among the Pigeons

Agatha Christie

$15.99 $14.87

A murder has been committed at the Meadowbank School, a fictional English girls' boarding school for daughters of the rich and famous. Students, teachers, and parents - all are potential suspects. The police are baffled. Enter Hercule Poirot. . .

A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea

Ursula K. Le Guin

$9.99 $9.29

In 1968, this first book in Le Guin's five-book Earthsea series employed what is arguably the first "school for magic" setting in a fantasy novel and features the education of Sparrowhawk at the School of Wizardry in the town of Thwil on Roke Island.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Muriel Spark

$14.99 $13.94

Set at the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, in Edinburgh, Scotland, based on James Gillespie's School for Girls, a school in Edinburgh attended by the author. A classic must-read novel, in some ways the feminine counterpart to "Goodbye Mr. Chips" (see above) - but with a sinister twist.

Time of the Hero

Time of the Hero

Mario Vargas Llosa

$20.00 $18.60

The very first novel written by this winner of the Nobel Prize. Set at the author's alma mater, the Leoncio Prado Military Academy in Lima, Peru. When Llosa's novel was first published in 1962, a thousand copies were burned in an official ceremony at the school.

A Murder of Quality: A George Smiley Novel

A Murder of Quality: A George Smiley Novel

John Le Carré

$17.00 $15.81

Set at Carne School, a fictional English boys' boarding school in Dorset modeled after Sherborne School in Dorset which the author had attended as a boy. This was the acclaimed espionage author's second book (1962) and is his only novel in which his reoccurring character, George Smiley, operates outside his usual environment of British Intelligence.

The Fourth of June

The Fourth of June

David Benedictus

$20.39

Set at Eton College, the author's alma mater. A savagely satirical novel whose hero encounters a plethora of snobbery, sadism and sexuality at England's most prestigious public school. When first published in 1962, the book outraged some Old Etonians (Eton alumni) - others praised it to the skies. Old Etonian Ian Fleming called it "brilliantly written" by an author of "rapier wit, acute observation and perceptive eye".

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Joan Lindsay

$16.00 $14.88

Set at the Appleyard College for Young Ladies, a fictional girls' boarding school near Mount Macedon, Victoria, Australia, based on the Clyde School (also near Mount Macedon), which the author attended as a girl. Joan Lindsay so adroitly used the form of a non-fiction documentary, many readers were positive the book was based on a true story. The author has cryptically refused to confirm that the book is entirely fictional.