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The life & themes of school stories

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Life in school is so much fun that a whole lot of stories have been dedicated to it

photo: Mohammed Yousuf
photo: Mohammed Yousuf

The genre of “school stories” as we know it today began with  Tom Brown’s School Days  written by Thomas Hughes in 1857. It was during this period that the idea of going to a school for an education became an aspect of children’s everyday lives in Britain.

The stories that were written around the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were aimed at communicating values such as those published in the magazine  The Boy's Own Paper . Its American counterparts, namely books such as the  What Katy Did  series, ran in a similar vein.

This evolved to books featuring pranks, friendship and fun interspersed with adventure in school life. Co-education was uncommon then. This was reflected in the school stories written by P.G. Wodehouse and Enid Blyton.

While the popularity of the genre has faded today, it continues to survive through stories like the  Harry Potter  and  Percy Jackson  series which are immensely popular among children and young adults. 

A theme that goes beyond time, age and gender is that of the class bully. This is an element that is constantly addressed in school stories. So, remember, the next time you confront a bully, know that you have a rich history of school stories to lean back on for company.


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