‘When I asked a group of girls who had been at Hatherop Castle in the 1960s whether the school had had a lab in those days they gave me a blank look. “A laboratory?” I expanded, hoping to jog their memories. “Oh that kind of lab!” one of them said. “I thought you meant a Labrador.”’
Our forthcoming Slightly Foxed Edition (no. 36) is a rather special one: Ysenda Maxtone Graham’s quietly hilarious history of British girls’ boarding-schools from 1939–1979, Terms & Conditions. Unusually for our list, it’s a piece of original publishing and if our readers love it as much as we do, it just might follow in the footsteps of Mr Tibbits’s Catholic School and sell out in a few weeks! With this in mind, this year we’ve decided to publish a month earlier than the usual winter date of 1 December, to give you all a chance to stock up in time for Christmas and ensure that loyal readers get first dibs on the limited edition, which is currently only available to SF subscribers and regular recipients of the SFEs. Those of you who are not subscribers to Slightly Foxed may like to order the unlimited Plain Foxed hardback edition which will also be published in early November. More information about these forthcoming editions may be found further down the page.
As most of you will know, since June subscribers to SF have been able to use their membership discount on the website for all books and goods and, after the inevitable hiccup or two, everything seems to be working smoothly. Please bear in mind that the website checks various details against the information we keep in the office and, as with most technical wizardry, there are ways in which the system may be foxed. If you are a current subscriber and are informed by the website that you are not, please don’t be offended. We will have all the correct details for you here in the office and will just need to tinker with your online account. Do get in touch with Hattie by phone on 020 7033 0258 (UK); +44 020 7033 0258 (overseas) or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll be able to get everything straightened out for you.
We’ll be in touch again later this month with our usual newsletter, including our winter catalogue, some exciting member offers from new bookish partners and a few upcoming literary dates for your diary. Until then!
Coming 1 November
A Slightly Foxed Original: SFE No. 36
Ysenda Maxtone Graham
Terms & Conditions
Life in Girls’ Boarding-Schools, 1939–1979
‘This is not a history of women’s boarding-schools. It’s not easy to say where, exactly, you would shelve it. It could be under memoir. Or is it more like anthropology? . . . The other option would be comedy, as it’s the funniest book you’ll read all year.’ Nicola Shulman
*Trade cloth-bound hardback available to non-subscribers*
RRP £17.50 • Published 1 November 2016 • Cloth-bound hardback limited edition
of 2,000* • 272 pages • Silk headband, tailband and ribbon marker • 170 x 110mm
Today it’s hard to grasp the casual carelessness and even hostility with which the middle and upper classes once approached the schooling of their daughters. Education, far from being regarded as something that would set a girl up for life, was seen as a handicap which could render her too unattractive for marriage, and with some notable exceptions such as Cheltenham, schools went along with the idea. While their brothers at Eton and Harrow were writing Latin verse and doing quadratic equations, girls were being allowed to give up any subject they found too difficult and were instead learning how to lay the table for lunch.
Fathers tended to choose schools for arbitrary and often frankly frivolous reasons. Hatherop, for example, was popular with some because of its proximity to Cheltenham Racecourse. One girl’s parents chose Heathfield ‘because none of the girls had spots’. Not surprising perhaps that many of them left school without a single O-level.
Harsh matrons, freezing dormitories and appalling food predominated, but at some schools you could take your pony with you and occasionally these eccentric establishments – closed now or reformed – imbued in their pupils a lifetime love of the arts and a real thirst for self-education. In Terms & Conditions Ysenda speaks to members of a lost tribe – the Boarding-school Women, grandmothers now and the backbone of the nation, who look back on their experiences with a mixture of horror and humour. If you enjoyed Mr Tibbits’s Catholic School you’ll certainly enjoy this.