It is said that everyone could write at any rate one interesting novel from the experiences of his own life. Similarly, everyone who has been to a public school ought to be able to write at least one good school story. Yet the number of school stories which can be considered satisfactory is small indeed. There has recently been something of a boom in these books. People, like Mr. Winkle, have been taking their coats off, and announcing that they mean to begin on the task of turning out a story of school life which will make Tom Brown forgotten. These are invariably referred to as classics, but as a rule they are very far from satisfactory. When a man sits down to write a classic school story, he generally leaves out the plot altogether, as savouring too much of the “healthy boy’s story” which is published in painted covers at Christmas. His story thereby, though gaining from the point of realism, for nothing much ever happens at school, loses in that it becomes dull. Few writers, to our mind, have hit the happy mean, though there have been some excellent attempts at it. Mr. Lionel Portman’s “Hugh Rendal” seems to us to go nearer to the ideal than do the works of previous writers. Wellington boys will probably be able to appreciate it keenly. We should not be surprised if this Christmas were to produce the Ideal School Story.


Editor’s note:
Wodehouse’s own school novel The Head of Kay’s would be published on October 5, 1905 by Adam & Charles Black. Was this the Ideal School Story he had in mind?