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Tom Brown's Schooldays
By Thomas Hughes

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Tom Brown's Schooldays

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Tom Brown's Schooldays
By Thomas Hughes
Charnwood Large Type (1988)
ISBN: 0-7089-8506-8
Genre: Classic Fiction

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - October 29, 2007

If you are like me, Tom Brown's Schooldays is one of those books that I had always meant to read, but somehow never quite got around to it. At long last, I finally did, and as is often the case, I wish I had done so sooner so that I would have more time to reread it in the future. Written by Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown's Schooldays is a fictional, slice-of-life account of one boy's school experiences.

The boy in question is the Tom Brown of the title, and the story follows him from his early life, through his attendance at the Rugby public school. Brown transfers to Rugby from a local village school after an epidemic strikes. He is only eleven when he enters Rugby, and he arrives at midterm making his transition into school life at the boarding school even more difficult than it was for most. The story follows him through his graduation. Brown's life after Rugby is chronicled in Hughes' book, Tom Brown at Oxford.

Tom Brown's Schooldays is set in the Victorian Britain of the 1830's, and it was first published in 1857. Hughes attended Rugby himself, so he brings such a sense of realism to the story that many thought that this book was in reality a thinly disguised biography - a fact that Hughes strenuously denied.

Tom Brown's Schooldays is a character-driven story that follows Brown and his friends, George Arthur and Harry East, as they adjust to life in the insular boarding school, their various adventures, and the troubles they have with Flashman, the school's resident bully. (As a side note, this is the same Flashman that is the protagonist of George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman novels, which are said to follow the adventures of Flashman after he was expelled from Rugby.)

Within the pages of this spellbinding book, Hughes also introduces the reader to the Bible quoting, terrifying, and cutting edge education reformer, Dr. Thomas Arnold. Dr. Arnold served as headmaster of Rugby in this fictional account. The character of Arnold is based upon the real life Dr. Thomas Arnold, who was the headmaster at Rugby when Hughes was a student there. This is a man whom Brown first fears, but eventually grows to respect, and perhaps even love. Tom Brown's Schooldays was the first of the 'boys at school' books, and it laid the foundation of all such books to follow - you can even see some of its influences in the heralded Harry Potter series!

It's importance as a literary classic and a ground breaking novel, aside, Tom Brown's Schooldays is simply an enjoyable book to read, one that is full of memorable characters, strong role models and valuable life-lessons, and one that offers a glimpse into some unique aspects of British history and culture. If you've never read this book before, you are in for a real treat, and if you have, you'll be delighted in the quality and print size in this large type edition.

Tom Brown's Schooldays can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Charnwood Large Type.

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