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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The changing world of the English public school, 20 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Tom Brown's Universe: Public School in the Nineteenth Century (Hardcover)
This is a short but well researched book on the public school system from the 1830s to the 1900s.

There are five chapters. The first is mainly about Thomas Arnold, the influential headmaster of Rugby School in the 1830s. The second is about the development of boarding schools for the middle-classes. The third chapter takes up most of the book and covers all kinds of stuff: the "games cult", the importance of classics, public school values, the "Old Boy" network, the unhealthiness of the public school environment, homosexuality, flogging and more. The fourth chapter is a discussion of what a public school is, and what distinguishes it from a merely private school, and the final chapter is about public school masters.

From the introduction:

"This book contains little in the way of general descriptions of the day-to-day lives of Victorian schoolboys, their living conditions, hours of working and sleeping, their studies, recreations, sorrows and hopes, but rather it looks out from the close horizons of individual schools to see what generalisations can be made about the total functioning of the system of which these schools were a part . . ."

Personally, I felt the lack of information about "the day-to-day lives of Victorian schoolboys", meant something important was missing from the book, so I give it four rather than five stars.

Another book about Nineteenth Century public schools that complements this one is "Boys Together: English Public Schools 1800-1864" by John Chandos.
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