Adult School Stories

List of adult school stories (apologies for poor formatting!)


Please email me on to suggest more titles. The criteria are:

  • Written for adult readers, though do suggest YA books: I’m putting those into the ‘Modern School Stories’ article, so need those titles as well!
  • Girls’ schools only: no books set in boys’ schools or mixed schools
  • British & Commonwealth books are all included, but on the whole, not US books (though if written by a once-British author or set in the UK, they can go in)
  • Not necessarily entirely set in school, as long as there’s a significant school episode; if the total of school material is less than 50%, indicate that it’s ‘part school’
  • No pornography, though a bit of sex here and there is OK – indeed, almost inevitable in modern books (I realise that this is a bit vague!)

 Anderson, Barbara, Girls' High (New Zealand), Secker & Warburg (1991)

Beaton, Jane: see infra Colgan, Jenny

Beattie, Sally, Small Rebellious Acts, Andre Deutsch (1986)

Bell, Mary, Summer’s Day, Collins (1951)

Berners, Lord, The Girls of Radcliff Hall, privately printed (1936)

Bowen, Elizabeth, Friends and Relations, Constable (1931)

Bowen, Elizabeth, The Little Girls (part school), Jonathan Cape (1964)

Brontë, Charlotte, Jane Eyre (part school) Smith, Elder & Co. (1847)

Brontë, Charlotte, The Professor (Belgium), Smith, Elder & Co. (1857)

Brontë, Charlotte, Villette (Belgium), Smith, Elder & Co. (1853)

Buxton, Ethel Mary, Gildersleeves, Sands & Co. (1921)

Byatt, A.S., 'Racine and the Tablecloth' from Sugar & other Stories (short stories), Chatto & Windus (1982)

Cannan, Joanna, The Misty Valley, (college), T. Fisher Unwin (1922)

Christie, Agatha, Cat Among the Pigeons (detective), Collins (1959)

Coleridge, Christabel, The Green Girls of Greythorpe, National Society’s Depository ([1890])

Colette, Claudine à l’école, Ollendorff (1900). As Claudine at School (trans. Antonia White),  Secker & Warburg (1956)

Colgan, Jenny, Class, Sphere (2008, as ‘Jane Beaton’; reissued under real name 2016)

Rules Sphere (2010, as ‘Jane Beaton’; reissued under real name 2016)

    —Lessons Sphere (e-book 2019; paperback 2020)

Cookson, Catherine, The Devil and Mary Ann (part convent), Macdonald (1958)

Cross, Amanda, The Theban Mysteries (American detective), Gollancz (1972)

Currimbhoy, Nayana, Miss Timmins' School for Girls ((India, detective), Harper Perennial (2011)

Dane, Clemence, Regiment of Women, Heinemann (1917)

Dudley Edwards, Ruth, Matricide at St Martha’s (detective), St Martin’s Press (1995)

Dwyer, Vera G., A War of Girls (Australia), Ward Lock (1915)

Elliott, Janice, Secret Places, Hodder (1981)

'Erskine, Rosalind' [Roger Erskine Longrigg], The Passion-Flower Hotel, Jonathan Cape (1962): the two sequels, Passion-Flowers in Italy (1963) and Passion-Flowers in Business (1965) aren’t set in school

Fraser, Antonia, Quiet as a Nun (detective), Weidenfeld & Nicholson (1977)

Greenhow, Henry Martineau, Leila’s Lovers (college) Digby, Long & Co (1902)

Greenwood, Diane M., Holy Terrors (detective), Headline (1994)     

Holt, Hazel, Delay of Execution (detective), Macmillan (2001); re-issued by Signet in 2002 as Mrs Malory and the Delay of Execution

Holtby, Winifred, South Riding, Collins (1936)

Johnston, Priscilla, The Narrow World, Duckworth (1930)

Kennedy, Margaret, The Constant Nymph (part school), Heinemann (1925)

 l’Engle, Madeleine, The Small Rain (part school), New York (1945); first part adapted as Prelude in Britain, Gollancz (1970)

Lake, Elizabeth, The First Rebellion (convent), Cresset Press (1952)

Lambert, Angela, No Talking After Lights, Hamish Hamilton (1990)

Larkin, Philip, Trouble at Willow Gables & Michaelmas Term at St Bride's, in Trouble at Willow Gables and Other Fictions, edited by James Booth: Faber (2002).  Also see Andrew Motion, Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (Faber 1993)

Le Marchand, Elizabeth, Death of an Old Girl, Rupert Hart-Davis (1967)

Lear, Winifred, Shady Cloister, Macmillan (1950)

Lemarchand, Elizabeth, Death of an Old Girl (detective), Walker & Co (1967)

Mackay, Sheena, Dust Falls on Eugene Schlumberger, Gollancz (1964)

Manning, Rosemary, The Chinese Garden, Jonathan Cape (1962)

McDermid, Val, Report for Murder (detective), Women’s Press (1987)

McGregor, Iona, Death Wore a Diadem (detective), The Women’s Press (1989)

Mitchell, Gladys, Convent on Styx (convent, detective), Michael Joseph (1975)

Mitchell, Gladys, St Peter’s Finger (convent, detective), Michael Joseph (1938)

Mitchell, Gladys, Laurels and Poison (college, detective), Michael Joseph (1942)

Mitchell, Gladys, Spotted Hemlock (college, detective), Michael Joseph (1958)

Mitchell, Gladys, other books of the same type                                                                       

Neuss, Paula, All Girls Together, Duckworth (1979)

North, Elizabeth, Dames, Jonathan Cape (1981)

Oke, Simon, The Hippopotamus Takes Wing, Collins (1952)

'Olivia' [Dorothy Bussy], Olivia, Hogarth Press (1949)

Orwell, George, A Clergyman’s Daughter (part school), Gollancz (1935)

 Perriam, Wendy, Michael, Michael, Harper Collins (1993)

Rae, Jill, Angels Flying Slowly (convent), Hodder & Stoughton (1995)

'Richardson, Henry Handel' [Florence Robertson], The Getting of Wisdom (Australia), Heinemann (1910)

Sayers, Dorothy L., Gaudy Night (college, detective), Gollancz (1935)

Scott, Eleanor, War Among Ladies, Ernest Benn (1928)

Shepherd, Eric, Murder in a Nunnery (convent, detective), Sheed & Ward (1940)

More Murder in a Nunnery (convent, detective), Sheed & Ward (1954)

Shy, Timothy [D.B. Wyndham-Lewis]& Searle, Ronald, The Terror of St Trinian’s, Max Parrish (1952)

Spain, Nancy, Poison for Teacher, Hutchinson (1949)

Spark, Muriel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Macmillan (1961)

Stevenson, D.E., Charlotte Fairlie, Collins (1954)

Swan, Susan, The Wives of Bath (Canadian), Granta Books (Penguin), (1993)

Syrett, Netta, A School Year, Methuen (1902)

‘Tey, Josephine’ [Elizabeth MacKintosh], Miss Pym Disposes (college, detective), Peter Davies, (1946)

Thackeray, William M., Vanity Fair (small part school), Bradbury & Evans (1848)

Thirkell, Angela, The Headmistress, Hamish Hamilton (1944)

Thorne, Nicola, The Little Flowers (convent school), Severn House (2004)

Valery, Anne, The Edge of a Smile, Peter Owen (1977)

Wade, Rosalind, Children, Be Happy, Gollancz (1931)

Warfe, R.E., First Term for Ziggy, Hodder & Stoughton (Australia, 1997)

White, Antonia, Frost in May (convent), Harmsworth (1933)

      Winsloe, Christa, The Child Manuela (German), Chapman & Hall (1934)

Adult School Stories