Terms and conditions book boarding school

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Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding-Schools, – by Ysenda Maxtone Graham

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Published 13.01.2019

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Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding-Schools, 1939–1979

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Education, far from being regarded as something that would set a girl up for life, was seen as a handicap which could render her too unattractive for marriage, and with some notable exceptions such as Cheltenham, schools went along with the idea. While their brothers at Eton and Harrow were writing Latin verse and doing quadratic equations, girls were being allowed to give up any subject they found too difficult and were instead learning how to lay the table for lunch. Fathers tended to choose schools for arbitrary and often frankly frivolous reasons. Hatherop, for example, was popular with some because of its proximity to Cheltenham Racecourse. Not surprising perhaps that many of them left school without a single O-level.

The headmistress was a heavy drinker; when the girls were doing ballroom dancing on a Saturday night, she would sit drumming her fingers with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and a glass of creme de menthe in her hand. Ysenda Maxtone Graham above as a child has a beautiful, relaxed style and has managed to assemble the great variety of testimony of hundreds of Old Girls into a fluent whole. The girls had to dance with her father, who had lost both his arms in the war: sometimes, his empty sleeves would be pinned on to the girl with whom he chose to dance. The school sport was rugby. The headmistress loved the rough-and-tumble. Soon, the teachers began to drift away. Instead of replacing them, the headmistress got the senior girls to teach the juniors.


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