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The Naughtiest Girl Series

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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Rob Houghton » 25 Aug 2017, 23:08

Anita Bensoussane wrote:The school Enid Blyton herself attended (St. Christopher's in Beckenham) only had 50 pupils when she was there


I don't know exactly how many pupils were at Bickley Park School in Bromley when Enid taught there, but I believe that was a small school too (it was only a prep school though).

Maybe Enid Blyton had a school of that size in mind when she wrote about Whyteleafe.


Yes - I would think there were probably not many more than 50 children at Whyteleafe - maybe 80 at the most. Because I was used to a primary school with two classes per year, 30 - 32 children in each class, I always envisioned a school of maybe 450 pupils or more, and when I went to secondary school, where we had 8 classes per year ( so roughly around 1,500 pupils) I used to imagine Whyteleafe must be about as big as that! Its only since I've reread the stories during the last few weeks that I've concluded the school was much, much smaller than I'd ever imagined previously.
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 26 Aug 2017, 08:12

I think the smallness of the school is part of the charm and helps give that feeling of a close-knit community, with everyone working together to make Whyteleafe a pleasant place in which to work and play. Individual strengths are known and utilised, and individual weaknesses come to light and are worked upon. There's an attempt to understand the behaviour of wrongdoers and encourage them to make amends and start afresh. You wouldn't get that strong feeling of everyone rooting for everyone else in a big school where many pupils didn't know each other.

Elizabeth is in a dormitory of six girls and Miss Thomas says (at the station) that there are fewer boys at the school than girls, so perhaps there are only about ten children per year. As Nora says, "Whyteleafe School isn't a very large school but it's a jolly fine one."

By the way, looking again at the early chapters I've just noticed that Joan Townsend is introduced as Joan Lesley - not Joan Leslie as I said earlier.
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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Katharine » 26 Aug 2017, 08:35

Eddie Muir wrote:
Katharine wrote:Well according to an on-line calculator, £10 in 1940 is equal to £60 today

I think your online calculator must be broken! £10 in 1940 is equal to nearly £600 today. :roll:


It's not the online calculator that was broken - it was me. :oops: I'd got confused with the 10 shillings, I then put £1 into the calculator, but forgot to alter my post.

My primary school only had one class per year, but that's about 200 children in the whole school from age 5 until 11. However that allows one class per year of age, whereas I think the school system Enid wrote about was based on a child's academic progress rather than their age, so the class that Elizabeth was in might be the equivalent to 2 classes in today's world. That would still put Whyteleafe about the 80 pupil mark.

I've just started to read The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor and was puzzled by the fact that Elizabeth was wearing her school tunic at home during the school holidays.
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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Rob Houghton » 26 Aug 2017, 10:45

Katharine wrote:
I've just started to read The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor and was puzzled by the fact that Elizabeth was wearing her school tunic at home during the school holidays.


Yes, I'd noticed that, too! In the original version there are illustrations showing her with Arabella, and Elizabeth seems to have worn her school uniform throughout the holidays! Quite a change of heart, considering she never went to school before book one! ;-) I don't think Enid mentions this in the text...but the illustrator seemed to ignore the fact Elizabeth was at home.
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 26 Aug 2017, 22:01

It's mentioned in the text that Elizabeth is wearing her uniform on the day Arabella comes to stay. The latter looks "more like a little princess than a schoolgirl" and Elizabeth looks down "at her own school tunic of navy blue with its bright yellow badge" and feels she'll "never be able to live up to Arabella!" Maybe Elizabeth put her uniform on specially that day, to try to look smart for her visitor? I know children sometimes used to wear their school blazers during the holidays when out and about, but it does seem unusual to wear a school tunic at home.

In Chapter 2 it's time to return to Whyteleafe and we're told that Elizabeth "put on her school uniform with delight", as though it isn't something she's been doing all through the holidays.
"Heyho for a starry night and a heathery bed!" - Jack, The Secret Island.

"There is no bond like the bond of having read and liked the same books."
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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Rob Houghton » 26 Aug 2017, 23:36

It's quite odd that Elizabeth wore her uniform on the day Arabella arrived. Maybe she was so proud of it that she thought she'd model it for Arabella! ;-) Its surprising because I'm sure Elizabeth wasn't badly off, as she seemed to have lots of dresses and clothes at the start of book 1...but maybe she outgrew them while she was at Whyteleafe and so only her uniform fitted her!! ;-)
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 27 Aug 2017, 10:49

:lol:

Talking of clothes, in The Naughtiest Girl in the School Miss Scott says to Elizabeth: "People like the way you look, the way you smile, and your pretty clothes, so they fuss you, and pet you, and spoil you, instead of treating you like an ordinary child." That suggests that she looks well-cared-for and presentable. However, in The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor Elizabeth is told that Arabella is always "dressed very nicely" and she doesn't like the sound of that because she herself is "often untidily dressed".

Maybe Whyteleafe, with its emphasis on character rather than appearance, has made Elizabeth dismissive of fancy clothes as they can be restrictive and may in some cases encourage vanity or a feeling of superiority. Ironically, though, there's more than a hint of snobbery in Elizabeth's own remark that "Usually beautifully dressed girls aren't much good at games and things like that."

Incidentally, I find it shocking that Arabella's parents don't appear to have talked to her about Whyteleafe or prepared her for it in any way. She doesn't even know it's a co-educational school until Elizabeth tells her - and she knows nothing of its ethos.
"Heyho for a starry night and a heathery bed!" - Jack, The Secret Island.

"There is no bond like the bond of having read and liked the same books."
- E. Nesbit, The Wonderful Garden.


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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Katharine » 27 Aug 2017, 12:24

Anita Bensoussane wrote:Incidentally, I find it shocking that Arabella's parents don't appear to have talked to her about Whyteleafe or prepared her for it in any way.


Didn't Enid do something like that to one of her own daughter's? I think I've read somewhere that they were sent to Boarding school without it being discussed, or the Nanny was dismissed without any warning? Or am I thinking of someone else?
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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Rob Houghton » 27 Aug 2017, 13:21

I would just presume that things like boarding school were chosen by the parents and the children wouldn't be asked an opinion at all - as children were usually not 'allowed' to have opinions in such cases! I think Elizabeth also had no choice, and was just packed off to Whyteleafe because that's what her parents decided was best for her. I'm sure Arabella's parents were the same - and probably Enid was too!

After all, we know that Enid herself trained to be a pianist because that was what her parents wanted. It was only once she was older and not living at home that she broke away and did her own thing - and that was very, very daring of her during that era...so Enid would no doubt have taken the view that children's views mattered very little. We've moved on a long way regards attitudes like this in 2017 - some would say we've moved too far!
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Fiona1986 » 27 Aug 2017, 21:01

Anita Bensoussane wrote:
Speaking of prices going up, a couple of days ago I went to the local library and saw a notice which said that charges had just been put up as follows:

Reserving a book assisted by a librarian rather than by using the self-service machine - £1 (previously free)
Inter-library loans - £7 (previously £3)
Items obtained from the British Library - £22 (previously £3.


That's mad! Items from the British Library are still inter library loans, and cost £15.95 each to the borrowing library (unless you go for a super-fast delivery). The £7 is more than my library charges, but is still heavily subsidised.

https://www.bl.uk/on-demand/pricing
"It's the ash! It's falling!" yelled Julian, almost startling Dick out of his wits...
"Listen to its terrible groans and creaks!" yelled Julian, almost beside himself with impatience.


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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 27 Aug 2017, 21:05

Like you, Rob, I think the school would normally be chosen by parents (or guardians). However, after selecting a school I would expect the parents to tell their daughter or son a few basic things about it, e.g. the size of it and whether it was single-sex or co-educational. After all, being sent away to school is a big step and it would be reassuring for the child to know something of what to expect. Surely most parents would also try to interest their child in the school, picking out aspects that might intrigue them and make them look forward to going there. The idea of pupils at Whyteleafe being given great responsibility and helping (up to a point) to run the school is the sort of thing you'd think they'd discuss.

Katharine wrote:
Anita Bensoussane wrote:Incidentally, I find it shocking that Arabella's parents don't appear to have talked to her about Whyteleafe or prepared her for it in any way.

Didn't Enid do something like that to one of her own daughter's? I think I've read somewhere that they were sent to Boarding school without it being discussed, or the Nanny was dismissed without any warning? Or am I thinking of someone else?

Now you mention it, Katharine, I seem to remember reading something about Gillian suddenly being whisked away to boarding school when she had thought she still had another year left at her local school. I've just had a quick flick through Barbara Stoney's Enid Blyton - the Biography and Imogen Smallwood's A Childhood at Green Hedges and I couldn't find anything about it, but maybe I missed it - or maybe we read it somewhere else.

Regarding the nanny, Imogen writes in A Childhood at Green Hedges about Sarah Aynsley, a nanny she'd been close to:

"When I left Green Hedges in September 1944, Sarah Aynsley was still my nanny. When I returned in December she had left for good. I believe my mother had warned me that she was going, probably at half-term. But I had not accepted it. Sarah had to be there so that I could tell her about Godstowe and the loneliness and unhappiness I felt. I had an overwhelming need to share that burden. But Sarah had gone. In her place, although I do not remember her, was a woman called Miss Robertson, who was employed rather as a companion than as a nanny. She apparently had a small dog. How I behaved to her in my distress I cannot say; but she left the same day on the grounds that I was impossible."

That night, Kenneth came into Imogen's bedroom and told her that she was wicked, ungrateful and a "terrible nuisance" to her mother. His anger absolutely terrified her and she found it too much to take after having suffered an unhappy term and the loss of Sarah. The impact of all these things clearly had a profound and long-lasting effect:

"I slowly and grimly came to terms with the fact that I would never again be able to talk about myself, about my worries, problems and joys... I began to build a wall around my inner self so that I could never be hurt in that way again. Over time the wall grew, unevenly and patchily, two bricks on and one brick off, through my childhood and adolescence, and within the wall the emotional side of me ceased to grow. I matured physically and intellectually and eventually, by copying others, socially; but the woman who should have grown beside and out of the child failed to develop."
"Heyho for a starry night and a heathery bed!" - Jack, The Secret Island.

"There is no bond like the bond of having read and liked the same books."
- E. Nesbit, The Wonderful Garden.


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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Katharine » 27 Aug 2017, 21:14

Thanks Anita. I think such behaviour wasn't uncommon, as I seem to remember that Joyce Grenfell's Nanny/Governess was sent away without any warning, the minute Joyce reached puberty.

In more recent times, I know of someone who failed to tell their child that they would start school when they were 5. This happened to coincide with the birth of a sibling, and the child thought they were being sent to school to make way for the baby! That would have been some time in the 1970s, so not really that long ago.

Obviously I only know what goes on in the lives of my family and friends, (boarding school wouldn't have been an option for any of us), but as far as other decisions go, I doubt any of the adults I know would have discussed anything with us in the way people seem to nowadays. Such as whether the family should move house, parents careers, names of siblings (or even whether to have another baby!)
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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Moonraker » 28 Aug 2017, 09:42

Anita Bensoussane wrote:I find it shocking that Arabella's parents don't appear to have talked to her about Whyteleafe or prepared her for it in any way.


I don't remember ever being prepared for my schools. I don't remember any of my friends/peers being prepared either. It was just a great shock on our first day at school! There were no parents' evenings or indeed any interaction between parents and schools. School life and home life were totally separate and never the twain did meet.
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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Rob Houghton » 28 Aug 2017, 10:11

I think that had altered a little by the 1970's, but I still don't think things were discussed with children as much as they are today. I know when I started Primary school I was thrown into a situation where I thought school would last just a day and then I could come home and never go again, lol! My parents never explained school to me before I started. I had never been to a pre-school group, so reception class aged 4 was quite a culture-shock!

We did discuss my secondary school...and my parents attended an induction day. My mom was fairly involved with the primary school, as she volunteered to help with sewing and reading and model-making etc (no official classroom assistants then!) and so she often knew more about what was going on at the school than I did...but that wasn't the case at secondary school. Mom would ask 'how was school' and I'd say 'okay' and that was as much as I talked about school at home! :lol:
'Oh voice of Spring of Youth
hearts mad delight,
Sing on, sing on, and when the sun is gone
I'll warm me with your echoes
through the night.'

(E. Blyton, Sunday Times, 1951)



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Re: The Naughtiest Girl Series

Postby Eddie Muir » 28 Aug 2017, 10:12

My experiences were much the same as yours, Nigel. I can't remember ever being prepared for any of my schools and I don't recall there being any parents' evenings at my junior schools or my grammar school.
'Go down to the side-shows by the river this afternoon. I'll meet you somewhere in disguise. Bet you won't know me!' wrote Fatty.

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