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on 25 March 1999
"The Compleet Molesworth" collects all four Molesworth books into one : Down With Skool!, How To Be Topp, Back in the Jug Agane and Wizz For Atomms. It chronicles the misadventures of Nigel Molesworth, the Goriller of 3B - author, satirist, philosopher and keen observer of skool life. While loosely based on boarding school life in the 50s, ex-schoolmaster Geoffrey Willans' sharp eye and sharper wit make this hideously funny. No one is safe - masters, bulies, gurls, cads, sops, oiks, parents, the skool dog - all are ridiculed with aplomb and brilliantly illustrated by Ronald Searle. Like any skoolboy, Willans often takes us off into fantasy and daydream, but also enjoys ending each chapter with a little bit of Nigel's wordly wisdom. Pon my soul dere darling Arabela but life is TUOUGH...but not so tough with Molesworth in your pocket.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 May 2013
Another foray into the category that is "Books I read as a child".

I wonder what a child of today would make of Molesworth? Even when I was growing up, in the 1970s, this 1950s depiction of boarding schools felt dated. An arcane world of Latin, Trig, Chizz, etc. That said, there was, and is, something wonderful about N. Molesworth's comic musings. The splendid illustrations by Ronald Searle, the incessant misspellings, the ongoing fight against the teachers, and (my personal favourite) fotherington-tomas (""Hullo clouds hullo sky hullo sun"). All of it evokes a lost world of canings, oiks, school caps, masters, bulies, gurls, cads, milksops, parents, the remnants of a classical education, and - of course - the skool dog.

As a bit of light relief, and a trip down memory lane, I really enjoyed it. Genuinely funny, although perhaps you had to have enjoyed it as a child?
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Ronald Searle was one of Britain's best-loved cartoonists, and Geoffrey Willans (if I remember correctly) a former teacher. If there is such a thing as a genius, then Willans and Searle together were one.

The Molesworth books purport to be instructional manuals by an English public schoolboy named Nigel Molesworth, about how to survive the school experience. From the day the first was published in 1953, they became a wild success, especially with schoolchildren. They are still in print and still eminently applicable (which says something both about the quality of the books, and about the nature of the British school system, which even at that point hadn't changed much in 400 years).

The wild misspelling that permeates them caused hysteria among parents, and their removal from many school libraries (the books, not the parents). Nevertheless, many phrases from them have since gone into the English lexicon, particularly "enuff said" and "as any fule kno".

The quartet consists of:

Down with Skool
How to be Topp
Whizz for Atomms
Back in the Jug Agane

and an omnibus edition,

The Compleet Molesworth, reprinted by Penguin as

These are considered absolute classics in the UK along with gems such as 1066 and all that. Whether they're intelligible to anyone but Britons is another matter; but I didn't think Monty Python would be, and I was wrong about that...

P.S. And should you be wondering (during reading) exactly what Treens might be, they're the myrmidons of that most unforgettable villain The Mekon (whose portrait you can see here), from the wonderful contemporary comic-book series Dan Dare.
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on 22 April 2004
This book is an absolute gem. Molesworth would have been a parent by thetime Adrian Mole came on the scene but he clearly had a wit, that isforever beyond Mole, at a very early age. From Fotherington-Thomas,through Grippa to the Skool Dog via Kanes I hav nown, The CompleetMolesworth is a riotous read from start to finish. Geoffrey Willans takesyou on a journey through public school life in the 50's that, I am sure,is as relevant today as it was when originally penned. Please don't be putoff if you didn't go to public school, you'll still love it, I didn't andI do. This is, without a doubt, one of the funniest books I have everread.
**Warning - Don't read this book while commuting as riotous laughter whilealone may result in you being approached by a number of people in whitecoats.
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on 26 August 2007
I was at my own prep school when the Molesworth memoirs appeared and in the perfect position to appreciate Nigel's struggle against everything that life could fling at him. His problems were mine; there was (there still is) a rice 2, and so many of his philosophical gems so meticulously recorded by Geoffrey Willans and so wonderfully illustrated by Ronald Searle summed up my own situation and outlook precisely. Nigel always got right to the heart of the matter, whether his topic was some tiny detail of school life (e.g. his note by note assessment of the school piano), or whether he turned his world-weary gaze onto a broader canvas, revealing metaphysical powers which justify his inclusion in anybody's list of leading twentieth century philosophers.

-Tom Rice, from his Forward.
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on 15 March 1999
"The Compleet Molesworth" is an anthology of all previously published works concerning one Nigel Molesworth Esq. Scurge of 2B and all time whizz at conkers. I think the reason I most like this collection is because so much of it rings true. Anyone who has been to an English Prep school, or indeed "boarded" at any establishment will love the down to earth brutality of skool life in the dorms. From the moment Nigel is left at the station by Mater and Pater along with all the blubbing new boys (plebs) to the Great Flood of St. Custards this is a fantastically hillarious account of skool life. The fact that it was written in the 50's but still holds true today is either a testiment to the private schooling system, or a damning indictment of the same. Order the book, read the accounts of beautiful under-matron Entwhistle and Molesworth II. Remember the good and bad times if you were ever bored in evening prep, else be horrified at the brutal and unjust methods used to force small school boys to face the senior fast bowlers at the wicket. Wot fun, whizz bang and chiz to all beaks.
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on 5 May 2013
I'll never get bored with Molesworth. Brilliantly funny every time I read it. It's only a shame that one needs to be 'of a certain age' to really appreciate it. Sadly, the gowned, cane-wielding schoolmasters who whiz chalk at boys are no more, and my 30 year old daughter 'didn't get it'. I'm sad for her because she has the right sense of humour for it, just doesn't have the memories. The only other downside is that once I pick it up I'm late for everything because I just don't want to put it down. I'm now on my fourth copy - foolishly lent them to friends and unsurprisingly didn't get them back.
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on 21 June 2013
This book will open your eyes to the reality of British public school life.

Without reading this book, the actions of the present government are inexplicable. Read it and everything will become clear.
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on 4 June 2011
Having been exposed to the Molesworth world view not too long after the books were published, it's a great pleasure to revisit them and find them as entertaining as ever. Although, I suspect that modern young people, who didn't get the same exposure to proper education, Latin and the whole philosophy of the 1940s and 1950s, will find them a touch opaque in places. But at least they'll find out that "Any fule kno" and similar expressions, which are still to be encountered on the letters page of national newspapers, aren't text-speak.
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on 12 January 2010
This I bought as a present for my brother who relished this kind of humour as a child. He is 70 this year and he said that he so enjoyed dipping in and out of it and found himself laughing out loud. Well worth the money to have all the books in one volume.
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