(Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, Two Sams at the Chalet School, Chambers, 1967, p57)
ELINOR 1; INTRO 1
Elinor's record-breaking series contains 59 stories about the imaginary world of the Chalet School and its characters, all published originally by the Scottish firm W & R Chambers between 1925 and 1970. And it's clear the stories quickly became popular; while new titles were regularly added to the series, the earlier books had to be reprinted over and over again. There was even a Chalet School fan club - something unique in the history of the girls' school story: this ran from May 1959 until Elinor Brent-Dyer's death in 1969, its membership then numbering nearly 4000 fans.
Today, the Chalet School hardbacks are no longer in print. And they are much sought after in the secondhand market, where the earlier titles in particular can often fetch much more money than they cost when new."
[unseen FOCS member] "Walk, don't run!"
[Helen] "But the stories themselves have always been available, because in 1967, HarperCollins Armada embarked on a programme of republishing the entire series in paperback - and this vast project will eventually be completed sometime during 1995.
The fact that today, in our world of the 1990s, more than 100,000 copies of these Chalet School paperbacks are regularly sold each year, must surely speak for itself about the continuing popularity of the series."
For one thing, Elinor Brent-Dyer came herself from quite a humble background. She was born, on the 6th of April 1894, in the Tyneside industrial town of South Shields, and grew up there in a modest, red-brick terraced house, with no garden, no inside sanitation, no running hot water. Altogether very different from the gracious homes inhabited by many of her fictional heroines.
Elinor came, what is more, from a broken home. Her parents had separated when Elinor was only three and her little brother, Henzell, barely two. And because their mother was so determined to hush everything up, it appears that Elinor's early life took place against a strange background of secrecy and evasion; which clearly had life-long effects on the whole development of her personality.
Her own schooldays were spent at a small private school in South Shields, where almost certainly the accent lay more strongly on lady-like behaviour than on academic achievement. And Elinor must, I think, be credited with having done a good deal in the way of self-education during later life, in the intervals of a busy teaching career.
This began as early as her 18th birthday; it was eventually to span almost forty years, and to give her a remarkably wide experience of real-life schools."
"If only I knew what to do with you girls!" said Dick in worried tones.
"Oh, you needn't worry about us!" replied Madge. "I've got a plan all ready for us."
"What do you want to do?"
"Start a school," was the sufficiently startling reply. "Do you remember that little lake in the Austrian Tyrol where we spent the summer five years ago - Tiernsee? There was a big chalet there which would be topping. It was not too far from the lake; fairly near the steamer, and yet it was away from the paths. I shouldn't want a large number, not at first at any rate - about twelve at most, and counting Joey."
There was the sound of flying footsteps, a thud in the hall, and then Joey, or, to give her her proper name, Josephine, fell rather than ran into the room.
"What are we going to do? I can see it's all fixed."
"Well, you're going there. Madge is going to run a school in that big chalet not far from the lake."
"What a simply ripping idea! When are we going?"
FRIENDS OF THE CHALET SCHOOL
[Elizabeth] "I read The School at the Chalet for my first book, I'd had it for about a year and I didn't read it, I used to get through the first chapter and then stop, and then go through it again, and I was very bored with them. And then I persevered and I read it through to the end of the book and I really loved it, and I've been hooked ever since."
[Moira] "The first book I read was The School at the Chalet, which I was given as a present, and I've been buying them ever since."
[Alice] "The first book I read was also The School at the Chalet. I had thought that Chalet School books would be boring before I read it, but my mummy bought it for me, and I tried reading it and I really liked it, and I've been reading them ever since."
[Caroline] "When I was younger I can remember I'd get, say, three Chalet books out of the library and read them through, and then straight after that, because I hadn't got any more books to read, I'd just start re-reading them from the beginning, again."
[Chloe] "I started reading the Chalet School books when I was eight, which was when I read the first book, The School at the Chalet, and I really liked them, but sometimes - I've got the first ten so far, and I've got some more in the other series, so I read the first ten, and then I go back and read number one again."
[Katie] "I usually go through the books which I have got, and then go back to the beginning, if I've got time, and start re-reading them over and over again.."
[Alice] "I read books nearly all the time, and I think Chalet School books are my favourite. I read them almost every day, but sometimes I get bored with reading a book too often, so I leave it and then go back to it a few months later."
[Caroline] "I like reading the Chalet books because they've got such good characters, and there's quite a lot of humour in them, and I just laugh when I read them."
[Chloe] "My favourite character is probably Jo Scott, because she's kind of like Jo, and she's named after her, but she also saved Emerence Hope's life."
[Caroline] "I think my favourite character is probably Madge, at the beginning, but then when she changes I don't like her so much, because she seems to age so much. [to Alice] Which is your favourite character?"
[Alice] "Um, Joey, or Len, or Con, or Margot [the others join in] or Stephen, or Charles, or Mike, or Felix, or Felicity, or Cecil, or Geoffrey, or Phil!"
And so I wrote to a lot of these people and a lot of them expressed an interest, and so we got a lot of new members that way. And after that, yes, I had leaflets at book fairs, I put adverts in various magazines such as Book and Magazine Collector. And again, like Australia, mostly by word of mouth - members sort of joined, got the newsletter, told their friends who also enjoyed the Chalet School books and it all blossomed from there."
[Clarissa] "Yes, I suppose that just really because the books are still in print and still read by children today, and she has created something which is unique in the annals of school stories. And for that reason I think it's important that we did celebrate the centenary, and it also gave the chance for an awful lot of people who didn't know that there was a fan club to find out about it through the publicity, and I mean our membership has almost quadrupled since we started this. And one of the nicest things is that we've had so many letters from people saying 'I knew nothing about it and I'm so pleased to have found you, I'm so pleased to find that there are other people like me.' "
[Polly] "So many people thought that they were the only ones, they thought they were mad to be still reading them into their adulthood. And people write in and say 'I thought I was a nutcase because I still read children's books', but then now we can welcome them aboard and say 'yes, we all do it', and it's a wonderful feeling."
And now, since we are holding up the normal life of this quiet thoroughfare, to the astonishment of the local population [crowd laughs], I think the moment has arrived for me to perform this very pleasant duty. Before I do so I would like to introduce you to Luella, who was a pupil at this school."
[Luella] "Years and years ago."
[Kit] "She says years and years ago, but we'll ignore that. I hope in future years we will have found more of the pupils, but in the meantime I think it only appropriate that Luella should help me to unveil this plaque. Hands on, Luella, hands on . . ."
[FOCS member] "Come on everyone, take pictures!"
She'd go and do her shopping and then she'd leave it with me and then she'd pop off back into town, possibly to have lunch or something like that you know, and a little later on she'd return. And she was a marvellous person, she used to come rushing down the shop and say 'Oh Kitty, you are a darling, how are you?, where's my shopping?, taxi's waiting, must go!' and we'd pile her and the shopping into the car and off she'd go, and this became sort of habitual.
First time my poor husband saw her he really wondered what had hit him, because she was in her manner . . . she was a very Margaret Rutherford type of person you know. Not in appearance, because she was taller, but he was absolutely petrified, I mean he took one look at her coming through the door and he disappeared, and didn't appear again until the coast was clear!"
[David] "And when we came here and all the text in Elinor's books fitted exactly, well, we said 'this must be it', we'll work from here. Having found this everything else falls into place." [Beth] "I read all the Golden Valley books and took every piece of information out that could be used for directions for us, that's how we started." [David] "And having established this as the school, it was easy to take Gay Lambert's escape when she went home to meet her half-brother from here, and also Gwensi's disappearance into the hedge where she disappeared for 24 hours, and we even found that in the place." [Beth] "And where the bog was." [David] "She didn't actually introduce it here, she introduced it in the 'Island' books." [Beth] "But that information was here.
"We just get a buzz from it, really, we get a buzz from it." [David] "This is what we do for fun." [Beth] "So we find it exciting, and when the pieces of the jigsaw sort of fit into the picture, then, well, it's just exciting, it really is."
[Hilary Clare] "But we only need the identity!"
[Sue] "Yeah, we do, okay, fair enough . . . "
[V/O] [Sue] "This is a dreadful confession to make, I think I would have been very miserable at the Chalet School, or any other boarding school. Partly the emphasis on, what can one say, a rather Spartan existence . . . those cold baths and those long walks that they're always taking, and those are common to all boarding schools as far as I can gather, it's not just the Chalet School. Much more because I am miserably aware that as a social animal I fail totally, and I would far rather be sitting in a library somewhere reading than playing or talking or asking 'Impertinent Questions'.
In fact the single character I would say with whom I identify most strongly in all the books is Eustacia, and Eustacia before she reforms. After she reforms she becomes a fairly standard Chalet girl, and we don't see very much of her at all until she becomes Dr Benson and a great authority on Aeschylus. But in her early days, yes, I would have sneaked if anybody had pulled my hair, and I would have sneaked, if I had got the chance, if I had seen people wasting their time playing noughts and crosses, and I couldn't see why I shouldn't use any library it took my fancy to use. So enormous sympathy for Eustacia.
But overall, despite this, the Chalet School I loved because it was of course a wish fulfilment. The girls who went there as I knew I would have gone there - unpopular, disliked, out of things - by the end of the book they were in things."
[Sue talking to her team] " 'There is no disguising the fact that Eustacia" [Hilary Clare] "Benson" [Sue] "Benson was the most arrant little prig that ever existed.' That's very good!"
But Miss Brent-Dyer did try and instill into us the sort of values that were important at the Chalet School - loyalty, obedience, pride in achievement, integrity and being helpful to others. She was musical and played the cello, and she hated slang."
"Two other snippets of information you might like to know. I was at school at the same time as Princess Seigamaria, who was the granddaughter of Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. She was a small six to my lofty twelve, so I didn't know her very well. And also I was the youngest shepherd in that nativity play that's mentioned in the book. I actually wore a sack, would you believe?"
"And finally, to put all the aforegoing in context - and I am sure BD would have approved of that - just before Easter this year I went to see the film Schindler's List, which you might know is about the Holocaust. And I suddenly realised that while I was living quite a nice life here in Hereford, dreadful things were happening in Europe. And so on a serious level, I would ask you when you go to your church services tomorrow to spare a thought for the six million who didn't survive, and but for the grace of God I could have been one of them.
Perhaps Miss Brent-Dyer's greatest virtue was her tolerance and lack of prejudice. Thank you, thank you Miss Brent-Dyer, and thank you wonderful centenary committee for amazing and impressive organisation this weekend, and thank you all for listening."
Long ago, when I was a child and first read the books, I never thought that Elinor's "Briesau-am-Tiernsee" was a real place. But, in 1950, when I was staying in Austria with my mother, I made a wonderful discovery. We were staying in Innsbruck and I was struggling through a local guidebook - my German not being quite as good as Joey Bettany's - when the name Scholastika leapt out at me (that's a place that's frequently mentioned in the early books). And further, breathless research with the map revealed other familiar place names - Buchau, Gaisalm, Seespitz and so on - all grouped round a lake that wasn't called the Tiernsee, but the Achensee. And there, in exactly the right situation beside this lake, was a village, reached - just as in the stories - by mountain railway and lake steamer, called, not Briesau, but Pertisau. It had to be right: despite those altered names, everything fitted. And to my great joy I had discovered that the original site of the Chalet School really did exist - or I should say, really does exist!
Later, in the 1970s, I was lucky in having six immensely enjoyable family holidays in Pertisau. And it was in following the footsteps of the Chalet School girls around the Achensee district that my plans for a biography of Elinor Brent-Dyer began, slowly, to take shape. For although no directly personal records of Elinor's visit have survived, in reading the early Chalet School books it's possible to picture everything about her holiday. The wonderful beauty of the mountain scenery comes through in every chapter. The chalet beside the lake where she and her holiday companion, Lilian, had stayed. The many ways in which they and the other two friends whose names appear in the dedication to The School at the Chalet - the many ways they had occupied their time. Above all, the atmosphere of enjoyment and friendship. It's all there in the books.
And today, a commemorative plaque outside the parish church in Pertisau rightly acknowledges the importance of Pertisau and the Achensee in inspiring Elinor's Chalet School series."
Because I started the magazine, I said 'Would anyone be interested in going on a trip to Achensee?', and seven of us went two years ago. And then I planned this trip for the centenary, although at the time when I planned it I didn't realise it was the centenary of the author's birth, but I did know it was the 70th anniversary of her first visit to Austria.
I think for those who have come for the first time, they've probably got the same kind of thrill as I got when I came for the first time - the excitement of seeing the places, and being somewhere you've never been before and yet knowing the geography. When I first came I found it very exciting knowing where the steamers went, knowing the route and knowing that there was probably the dripping rock between Pertisau and Geisalm and so on. And it was very strange knowing the geography of somewhere you've not been to. And I think for people who've been before it's probably interesting being with a group, so that one can compare notes, and quote, and talk about the characters in the books.
I think it's because it's exciting to realise they're real places because so many books are purely fiction, and here you've got somewhere that, although the distances have been changed and the names have been changed, it is about a real place, and so you can, you can almost pretend the thing is real, and you can say 'Well, this is where they did that, this is where they got caught in the storm on the alm and this is where they went to pan for gold in the Ziller and so on,' and it somehow gives the books more reality. And I know some of us were saying yesterday that we almost felt like being old girls of the Chalet School."
"They went down to Spartz by the funny little mountain train which crawls up the side of the mountain from the plain below to the great Tiernthal. With Madge were the seniors; Miss Maynard and Miss Carthew had the middles; and Mademoiselle, Miss Durrant and Miss Wilson looked after the babies.
Marie and Eigen had come to help carry the baskets, and they were as excited as the rest. They sat in awed silence at first, but gradually their tongues were loosened, and they chattered eagerly about the beauties of the journey. From Spartz the Zillerthal winds its way by the banks of the river into the heart of great mountains, where the highest are covered with snow all the year round. Past beautiful woods the train wound by farm-houses, the walls of which were adorned with wonderful frescoes, and from which linty-locked children appeared to watch the train as it went past. They stopped at primitive little stations, Fugen and Ried and Zell-am-Ziller, where the railway branches off to the east, and so, at last, to Mayrhofen."
I think too it's the period in which she wrote is recognisable, it's similar to the schools where I went, where things like posture and good manners and speaking quietly and walking along corridors without talking . . . When I was at school we had to always process along the walls of the corridor between the classrooms so that the staff could walk down the middle. Somebody in one of the magazines said that you didn't knock on the staffroom door, you stood and you waited till somebody came out and then you could ask if you had a message or a query, and that was very like the school to which I went.
And I suppose too I like her Catholicism, because I was a Catholic in a school where there were only about three of us out of about, I suppose, five hundred, and we were a little clique of our own, a little collection of people with similar thoughts and similar ideas."
"The girls streamed away to the woods, determined to make the most of their holiday. There was little fear of them getting lost, for they had decided to keep to the banks of the river and see where it led them.
Joey and Frieda sauntered off up the river, anxious to see as much of it as they could. Elisaveta and Simone crossed to the other bank and wandered along in the other direction. They were presently joined by Margia, who had great ideas of finding gold in the water.
Simone was delighted to help with the experiments; but Elisaveta soon tired of messing about in the water and went off by herself, full of her own thoughts.
She never noticed how far she was getting away from everyone, and it was quite a shock to her when she heard footsteps, and, on looking up, saw a tall dark man approaching her with a smile.
The stranger seemed to be anxious to prevent her from feeling alarmed, for, before she could open her mouth to call, he spoke, making a low bow. 'Pardon, madame,' he said. 'It is our little Princess, is it not?' "
They must be unique - I think the experience of 1994 has shown that. The huge gathering at Hereford, the huge readership of the Friends of the Chalet School newsletter, and Daphne's Chaletian as well. I think that most of us have had the experience of feeling that we were the only ones, or one of only a few people we knew who were interested in these books, who cared about them passionately. And then to discover that there's not only others but hundreds all over the world I think is really quite amazing. And that the number is being added to, because these books are selling at the rate of 100 or 150,000 a year, and some of those - many of those - must be to kids nowadays, is really amazing.
I think Elinor Brent-Dyer's never had her due, and this is of course because she is a woman writer, writing for girls, and no-one is interested in those. Children's literature, women's literature, women's fiction are regarded as trivial, negligible, not worth bothering about. But of course in literary terms that makes her very important and the books very important, and I would argue that in sociological terms they are also very important, because they probably have given girls and women wider horizons and a sense of alternatives to the dominant culture that they might not get anywhere else."
I have enjoyed the walking - I didn't realise that there was so much and that I would do so much and that has been fabulous - and I guess really, again, it's the all-women thing I actually really appreciate. That it's being with a group of women with whom I perhaps don't have a lot in common otherwise, but we have got this really enormous bond, this kind of shared history almost over years and years just based on the Chalet School books, because they're very real to all of us."
"At this point, the girls might break ranks and walk as they chose, so long as they did not get either too far ahead or loiter. Thekla was left with Vanna and Frieda who looked at each other.
Both wanted to set this very unpleasant new girl right; and both were rather shy about doing it. But Frieda, though she was quiet, and 'very backward about coming forward', as Joey had once phrased it, was also very conscientious. 'May I say something to you, Thekla?' she asked in her soft, pretty voice.
'Speech is free,' said Thekla coldly.
'I know. But you may not like what I wish to say. Only, I think that if I do not, someone in your form may; and, perhaps, not so nicely.'
Thekla looked at her scornfully. 'Do you think I care for anything those girls may say - those girls, many of whom come from the trading classes?'
'Yes; that is it,' said Frieda, seizing on this opening. 'It is this, Thekla. We never trouble about what our fathers are. The thing we think of is what we ourselves are. Drop all these foolish ideas, and become one of us.'"
[Clarissa] "We started to think about the sort of things that we would want in the exhibition, and to make a list. We put a note in the newsletter, asking for things. Fortunately, between us, Gill Bilski and myself have all the books - except for some of the very rare ones - with dustwrappers. And in fact nobody actually came forward to say that they had any of those. So the books were ours - we had a couple from other people."
We were lucky enough to have some original artwork, really representing all the periods of the Chalet illustrations, from one of the early Nina K. Brisley illustrations through to a dustwrapper by D. Brook, the one from The Chalet School Reunion. And then finally, some of the new paperback artwork by Gwyn Jones. And it all really ran extremely smoothly."
And I tried to depict every book in the series, so that there is an incident coming from all of the Chalet books, though of course some of the things have to be used more than once. And I have tried to depict the main characters, and the border is the flags which depict characters or areas where places are mentioned - because the school was international, people came from all over the world, so I used this."
We do all sorts of things, we do quizzes sometimes - at Christmas we had a quiz with prizes which was a thinly-disguised excuse for giving Christmas presents, and we have had swapping books around. We have had just talking about dealers and other clubs like Folly, but really it's mainly a social thing. And despite what the reporter from Scotland on Sunday asked me when she rang me to ask me about local clubs, we do not dress up as schoolgirls and go to public places - she seemed to think that's what we do, but no we don't, no we don't!"
[Fan joins the group]
[Fan] "The picture? Oh, brilliant!"
In the end, Elinor tackled the problems head-on; and in making full use of the international crises, she wrote what proved to be one of her most popular books, The Chalet School in Exile. Here, as well as relating the perils endured by Joey - with Jack Maynard and Miss Wilson and a group of Chaletians - during their hazardous escape from Austria to Switzerland, the story also describes how the many harrowing events accelerate the maturing of Joey's character. And this does make it possible for the reader to accept that, in the course of the book, Joey becomes, first engaged, then married, and, in the later chapters, the mother of triplet daughters.
Meanwhile, both Joey and the Chalet School find new - if only temporary - homes in another of Elinor's favourite places: the Channel Island of Guernsey (which she had of course visited in 1923, the year before her Tirolean holiday; and where she had set a number of her 'La Rochelle' stories - that's her other series). And, in bringing the Chalet School to Guernsey, Elinor enjoyed an opportunity of linking her two series, by welcoming many of the 'La Rochelle' characters into the Chalet School."
[V/O] [Clarissa] "Well, I think we thought of Guernsey really because she didn't just write the Chalet School books. One of the other series she wrote was a set of seven, loosely connected books known as the La Rochelle series, five of which are either wholly or partly set in Guernsey. And there are also two of the Chalet books which have - well, The Chalet School in Exile has its second half in Guernsey, and The Chalet School Goes to It has a chapter and a half in Guernsey. And it seemed a very obvious place to choose. It's also obviously an attractive island, and somewhere very nice to go."
[Polly] "It was quite gratifying to know that some people were coming on this trip who'd never actually read the La Rochelle series, but if you like, the Chalet spirit had pervaded all the things we'd done so far for centenary year. They'd had such good times meeting with other like-minded individuals that they wanted to be part of it again, and discover the La Rochelle country for themselves."
[Mo to other women] "All your gache is ordered, but could you - how many want tea?"
[Other women put hands up] "Me . . ."
[V/O] [Mo] "Well, I rediscovered Brent-Dyer when we came to Guernsey and I was working in a grammar school, and they were throwing out old books. And I'd been working in there and had started to reread them, and they were throwing out a first edition of The New Chalet School, and one of The Chalet Books for Girls - volume two. And I thought, 'Oh well, I'll keep that'. And then I had no idea how I was going to get hold of any other hardbacks, so I started to buy the paperbacks. My daughter started to read them - she was ten then - and fell in love with them. Then I discovered another hardback in the Oxfam shop, and from then on she wasn't interested in the paperbacks, she wanted all the hardbacks.
I'd never heard of the La Rochelle series until I started to collect them, but then I started to find all the different place names and take photographs. And then when the celebrations came up, and Guernsey was mooted as a place to come, I thought I'd go into it in a lot more detail.We were able to establish, for example, where Polly learnt to swim in Maids, and where they used to fall off the wall into the sea, where the fire was where Peter de Garis was killed saving Anne, and so on. And I just worked from the books, and got the estates archivist who holds all the history material on Guernsey, and we just worked together to hunt up all the places and just took it from there."
[Mo to other women] "I think the houses - the house must have been either that antique shop or that antique shop, because they're the only ones actually on a corner, alright, and they came up that street to the house, or up Fountain Street to the house. So I think it must have been - and they're the only ones, I think, that look posh enough."
[V/O] [Mo] "I feel that I've joined a very large extended family, and I know that wherever I am when I go to England, that I'm never going to be alone, because there's always somebody there, that I can call on, and go and visit, and have a cup of coffee, or whatever, and drool over their books."
THE FINAL YEARS
FINAL YEARS 1; ELINOR 4
Undoubtedly Elinor would have liked her real-life school to resemble the Chalet School. And it's clear that the basic aims and ideals of the two schools did have much in common. Nevertheless, there were, for many reasons, wide differences. And, although the Margaret Roper School undoubtedly filled a local need during the war years, it never enjoyed the phenomenal success of its fictional rival. Nor was Elinor, for all her undoubted gifts as a teacher, really suited to being a headmistress.
Her main interest throughout the years had always lain in her writing, and after the Margaret Roper School closed in July 1948, Elinor's writing output increased dramatically - the record period being the decade immediately following, which saw the production of 38 books, including 23 additions to the Chalet School series. This level was never quite reached again. But during the following eleven years, Elinor managed to produce a further 18 Chalet School books in an effort to satisfy her fans.
This was a highly successful time for Elinor in career terms - although in many ways her life cannot have been easy. For one thing, she was still struggling to maintain the enormous Victorian villa in Hereford which had housed her school. And it wasn't until 1964 that her friends, Phyllis and Sydney Matthewman, finally persuaded her to sell up and to move with them into a far more manageable house at Redhill in Surrey. It was here that Elinor spent the last five years of her life. And here that she died, quite suddenly and very peacefully, on the 20th of September 1969.
She had continued working on the Chalet School books right up to the day before her death. And the final book of the series, Prefects of the Chalet School, was in fact to be published posthumously, in March 1970."
FINAL YEARS 2
[Clarissa] "How are you?"
[FOCS member] "Fine thanks. And you?
[Clarissa] "Good, fine thank you."
[FOCS member]"How did it all go?"
[Clarissa] "It was lovely, actually, absolutely lovely."
[V/O] [Clarissa] "Well, I think as we'd begun with Elinor's birth, we wanted to end with her death, and it was really when we discovered that she'd been buried without a headstone that we felt that something should be done to rectify this. And then, when we were working things out, we realised that the 20th of September 1994 would be exactly twenty-five years to the day after she died, and so it seemed a fitting time to choose.
We put a note in the newsletter asking people whether they would be interested in donating money towards a headstone and perhaps coming to a service on that day, and we had a very good response, so we just took things from there."
It took me quite some time to realise that this was the outward mask of the working headmistress. Behind that facade lurked a complex, single-minded, lovable, clumsy, stubborn, forward-looking, spiritual, dottily humoured personality of enormous charm and innate wisdom. With hindsight, I can now recognise a born educator, someone who almost whooped with joy and enthusiasm at the chance of encouraging and opening a young mind. As I came to realise, this was no old-fashioned fuddy-duddy, but a very kind and generous woman, a mine of information and a fount of common good sense.
May I just finish by saying personally, 'Thank you Elinor, God bless you'."
FINAL YEARS 3
[Barbara Penrose] "I think the books for me as a child, I mean everybody had their place in the Chalet School, nobody was disapproved of, and there were understanding teachers - well, our teachers were okay, but they weren't understanding, they were there to teach. And they had nice uniforms that suited them - well, our uniform was grey and white and didn't suit me. And everybody had their place, and it was very hierarchical and very secure."
[Cynthia Castellan] "And then I worked in London, and then there were the air-raids, and the flying bombs, and the rockets, and there's this - the very famous quotation, 'What is death? Falling asleep with God to awake in his presence', which sustained me through periods of danger, and some of them weren't imminent, but some were."
[Joanne Hedges] "We all just like the kind of outlook that the books provide. Society seems to in a way be going down and down at the moment, and a lot of people don't have our - my outlook on life, and I seem to think more and more now it's because I've read these books, and I wish more people would, because perhaps then things would pick up."
Followed by silence.
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