I just started reading “The Name of the Star” by Maureen Johnson which is set at a London boarding school. It got me thinking about how many books I’ve read that are set at a boarding school.
I find the fascination literature and films have with boarding schools weird. For one, I don’t think many people in the world go to them and for another, they’re written as fun and magical places full of midnight feasts, sneaking out and playing games. They never really deal with things like bullying and homesicknesses, which I’m sure are just as big a part of life for kids there.
I wonder where we came to view them as places of fantasy, places we wished we’d have grown up in. I never really felt that way growing up. Even reading the Enid Blyton classics set there, they were fun to read but I never wished to go myself. I think the one boarding school that I’d go back to being a kid to attend is Hogwarts but that’s really more to do with the magic than being away at school plus the ghosts there would creep me out 🙂
My favourite boarding school stories growing up were:
Malory Towers – Enid Blyton
Trebizon – Anne Digby
St Clares – Enid Blyton
The Worst Witch – Jill Murphy
What’s funny about there being so many boarding school stories is I could easily write one myself even though I’ve never even visited one. I could just remember all the things books and films have told me happens while you’re there. Things like common rooms, housemistresses, prep, playing far too much sport, dormitories, shared bathrooms, playing hockey in bad weather and pillow fights. But I just don’t believe that’s what they’re really like.
Probably due to Harry Potter, there’s now a ton of YA books set in boarding schools with supernatural elements. I’m not sure what Enid Blyton would make of vampires threatening midnight feasts but they have injected something new into the well-worn genre. Lately, I’ve read some great YA boarding school books both realistic and supernatural and it looks like boarding schools will continue to fascinate writers and readers.
I think I’d steer clear of writing my own boarding school story though, I prefer living with the fantasy versions safe in the knowledge I’ll never have to attend one.
My favourite YA boarding school stories:
Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead
The House of Night – P.C and Kristin Cast
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
Night School – C J Daugherty
Anna and The French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins
Do you like reading books set at boarding school – what are your favourites? Would you have wanted to go to boarding school yourself?