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Dorita Fairlie Bruce

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Dorita Fairlie Bruce

Postby joanne_chan » 19 Feb 2017, 13:07

Yes you can tell I'm back however I was kindly given a 2003 reprint of That Boarding School Girl by Dorita Fairlie Bruce by a dear friend who knows my tastes in fiction somewhat unexpectedly and I was wondering has anyone read this or any other novel by them?
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Re: Dorita Fairlie Bruce

Postby timv » 19 Feb 2017, 13:53

Yes, I've been trawling through the 'Dimsie' series for the 'school stories' section of my study of real places used in classic children's literature c. 1920-80, along with Elinor Brent Dyer and Elsie J 'Oxenham'/ Dunkerley. When this part of it gets published is still very uncertain, given that Dorita Fairlie Bruce and other school story authors who were famous in the 1920s-40s are now largely forgotten so publishers are wary about publishing anything to do with them.

There are a lot of similarities between DFB's schools, especially the 'Dimsie' school - the Jane Willard Academy on a cliff in Kent near 'Westover' ie Dover - and Enid's Malory Towers. DFB has rather more smugglers' passages, sensational rescues etc, and was probably using ideas from 1920s girls comics. Possibly DFB's characters gave Enid some ideas on 'types' to use, eg the 'madcap joker out of control' younger girl (DFB's Hilary Garth influencing Enid's June Johns), the bossy, brainy and rather insensitive 'leader' (DFB's Erica Innes influencing Enid's Alicia), or the 'dreamy fluffy blonde' (DFB's Rosamund Garth influencing Enid's Mary-Lou), plus the 'vicious snob' (Nita Tomlinson influencing Prudence and Angela?). But Enid is a far better writer and has far fewer unlikely coincidences or long-drawn out plots, and she has no 'moral crusade' by the 'responsible' girls against 'silliness' like DFB's famous Dimsie and her 'anti-Soppists'; Enid's girls are more realistic.

Like Enid, some of DFB's more insightful books with a 'sense of place' are not in her most famous series - in this case, DFB's 'family' and 'career' orientated stories set on the Firth of Clyde in her own Ayrshire, SW Scotland, in the 1930s-40s. Some have been republished in the UK by Girls Gone By Publishers (see website) in recent years; possibly 'Wild Goose Chase', 'The Serendipity Shop' and 'The Debatteable Mound' are the best . As with Enid, the publishers seem to have been reluctant to republish the non-series books as often, so distorting the public view of the authors' output.
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Re: Dorita Fairlie Bruce

Postby keri.woods@gmail.com » 07 May 2017, 18:24

I love the Dimsie books, and read them as a child. Unfortunately they seem to be very difficult to get hold of (in South Africa anyway, I'm not sure about the rest of the world). I can't even track down a lot of the more recent reprints.

I've been wondering about the reprints - far more recent that the originals. Does anyone know if they have the original text?
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Re: Dorita Fairlie Bruce

Postby joanne_chan » 12 May 2017, 16:10

The Girls Gone By reprints do except where the Estate of DFB requested a tiny number of changes to paragraphs ( just an handful ) however in the prefix to each book they are referred to with the original text and the officially sanctioned alterations so you can see the difference.
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Re: Dorita Fairlie Bruce

Postby keri.woods@gmail.com » 23 Jul 2017, 19:38

Joanne_chan, thanks for the response (and apologies for my long absence!). It's great to hear abou the "Girls Gone By" reprints!

timv, your study sounds really interesting, and I really hope you do manage to get it published! I'd love to read it. It's such a shame that so many of the school story authors have been forgotten. A generation is really missing out!
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