'It Was a Silly System': Writers and Schools, 1870-1939

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This article explores the methodological issues involved in assessing creative writers' attitudes to the far-reaching changes in non-elite school education which took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Unlike public-school fiction or children's story magazines, sources dealing with working and lower-middle-class education have barely been explored by literary critics. The first part of the article, therefore, focuses on the portrayal of that education in contemporary novels and autobiographies by writers such as H. G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, John Buchan, D. H. Lawrence, and George Orwell, while the second offers a case study examining the place of English literature in the radical Socialist Sunday Schools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)952-975
Number of pages24
JournalModern Language Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


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