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on 7 January 2011
Tom Brown's schooldays is one of those classics; everyone has heard of it, but probably knows it better from one of the film or TV adaptations. This is shame as the book is very well written and has some wonderful (if a little flowery) images of the English countryside that are often left out to save time.

The book actually starts shortly after Tom's birth and the first few chapters cover the early part of his life before going to Rugby school. This part is generally left out in the film versions; a pity as there are some excellent descriptions of country life at the beginning of the 1800s.

Hughes describes the growth from adolescence to adulthood of a young man from the middle class of English society with great affection and a keen eye. The book illustrates how people thought about the education of young men to fulfill a purpose within society, and I would suggest that many of the views were valid for the next 100 years. I would also suggest that the concept described in the book of giving young people responsibility for the care of younger children, could be a valuable concept in todays society.

A really good read, and one that is suitable for teenagers and above.
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This is the first book I’ve ever read about a boy’s school and I read it because I bought the first of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books (and Flashman is a character in Tom Brown’s Schooldays). There is a scene of tossing (calm down, it’s really not what you think) in which the bully Flashman and his cronies put younger boys in blankets and chuck them ceilingwards. At Rugby School (where the book is set), there are a lot of bullies, and the author Thomas Hughes was trying to help stamp it out (he was writing in 1857 and sadly now we have cyberbullies and the problem remains). The author’s Christian viewpoint came across quite strongly. The book had a bit too much rugby football and cricket explanation in it for my taste but apart from that I enjoyed it. It was unsurprisingly very short on female characters.
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on 17 December 2002
I read Tom Brown's School Days after being told that all other school stories stem from this one. It's fantastic, informative and very entertaining.
Don't be put off, until Tom actually gets to school it's rather dull (about the first four chapters). But when he gets there, everything 'comes to life.' It's enormous fun and at times moving (such as when one of the boys dies or when East becomes a Christian). It's really marvellous. The sequel (Tom Brown at Oxford) is OK, but a bit long winded, and I certainly could never agree with Tom's choice of marriage partner).
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on 19 January 2014
My wife recently brought me a Kindle and I have been availing of some of the free classics. This book came as a pleasant surprise since I have only heard of it via George McDonald Fraser's Flashman series.

The book begins with a most charming and engaging description of the country life of a young Master Brown which drew me in. Perhaps it was my own nostalgia at play but the spyglass view into English country life two centuries ago is fascinating for those interested in history.

I can see why the book is well known, the way it covers life in Rugby is informative and appealing but even when reading it in the context of the time I found the books end to be little more than a sermon on being a good Christian Englishman. I found it tiresome and a stark contrast to the schoolboy antics of earlier chapters.

Still a good book for those interested in literature of the time. And it affirms the genius of George McDonald Fraser in taking the bully Flashman. I wonder if Flashman has helped to keep interest alive in this book?
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on 6 November 2015
I am struggling a bit with this, the lingo is so outdated to the extent that I am saying to myself "what does he mean?".
I guess that had I attended a public school I would have some "inside knowledge" of the system.
How young school pupils have coped with this tale does leave me wondering.
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on 14 January 2013
I have never been one to read any classical stuff but I was drawn to this from a very different perspective. I recently read a book on the history of rugby and in particular a great deal of this centred around Rugby School and the origins of the game itself. There where quotes from Tom Brown's School Days whereby I felt I would get a closer feeling to what life was like when a certain William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and had the audacity to make up his own rules. I found Tom Brown's School Days a fascinating read and one that I am so disappointed has taken me so long to find.
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on 16 August 2011
I was interested to read this story mostly due to it being the origins of the Flashman character that George MacDonald Fraser would adopt and develop over a century later. I was pleasantly surprised then to find that this is a very enjoyable story. It probably helps a little that I am quite interested in the period and carefully read every description and hung on every word, but I found the book to be very readable and the story itself very good.

I am not a fan of the way that some novels of this period frequently break away from the narrative to make general points that are almost digressions, but we don't get a great deal of that here, and when we do it is usually brief. The first chapter being an exception, interesting as it was. This chapter tells of how much the area that our story starts had changed within the few decades between the time it is set and that in which it is told. I found I was eager to be introduced to our hero, and so although I found this chapter to be interesting, I did find I was longing for the story to begin. But once the story gets started it moves at a nice pace.

In this book we follow Tom Brown's progression from a boy getting up to mischief in his home village to his leaving Rugby school as a young man. Along the way we are provided with a fascinating insight into early 19th century public school, and to a lesser extent, rural life. There are some very likeable characters, some good and some bad (such as Flashman,) but Tom's experiences with both kinds teach him valuable lessons. I enjoyed this book very much (so much so that I found I had started to read the sequel within a few hours,) and I certainly recommend it. I found this Kindle version to be an excellent transcription and it is a free edition, so if you're interested in literature of this period, why not give it a try?
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on 15 April 2016
Most people will probably have seen the film, remembering the "roasting" scene as a major part. There's so much more to the book than that. It details Toms life from a young child to his early twenties. The language used is obviously dated but the book is very well written with descriptive text and a clear moral story line. Well worth reading.
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on 22 January 2014
Well what can you say? I guess I was looking for the origins of Flashman and Billy Bunter rolled into one. I had seen dramatisations of the book and enjoyed it. The Tom Hughes novel is dreary. slow and takes forever to get moving. Great for insomniacs
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on 5 May 2016
This is a story that makes you realise you would not have wanted to be a middle class boy in this era. A well told story, bringing to the attention the type of bullying going on at the time, I say we are well rid, though I suspect it continues in a different way today.
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