Monday, 29 June 2009

The Posibilities Inherent in Private 'At-Home' Schooling as Pertaining to the Young Adult

It feels as if all I ever do these days is apologise, but after saying in my last post that from that point on I would be updating my blog every other day or so in actuality it has been something like nine days since you last heard from me. At that time such had been my intention but the opportunity unexpectedly arose for me to undertake something of cycling tour of the UK and given the marvellous (for the UK) weather we have been having recently I could hardly turn it down. I am home just for today and then I'm off again along the south coast but from this point on I really will be updating more often as I am taking a little lightweight laptop with me with wireless and 3G Internet connectivity. I'm also going to be doing a little work on the move on completing that small ‘in-between’ prequal/sequel volume I've been talking about as well as doing some preparatory work developing ideas for volume 3.

The latter volume, although set in the present, I expect will deal with aspects of imposed discipline more likely to have been encountered in the Victorian era, perhaps around the turn-of-the-century. I intend it to be a tale full of stiffly starched, tight high collars; restrictive, breath-denying and spirit-quenching bespoke corsetry; deportment training and the use of rigid backboards; crushingly tight little lace-up ankle boots; ruffled-seat bloomers with their leg-cuffs coupled by an intervening short length of fabric that, should it become torn or damaged in any way, can so easily lead to a prolonged caning or birching over a leather topped whipping stall; cutie-pie ankle socks or short gartered and beribboned stockings; sailor suits or ridiculously flouncy childish and feminine school uniforms, the crisply starched puffball sleeve blouse, its high collar tightly buttoned and as stiff as to require the girl’s chin be kept always slightly elevated - and beneath it, the tightly knotted and freshly pressed school tie. Although set in a domestic environment rather than some private institution, here we delve into the private world of the country house, with the live-in governess, children's nanny and having the school room once traditional in an age when home-schooling for girls was often seen as the done thing. In such a world a young lady of, although too old for school in the conventional sense, at least to modern eyes, might nevertheless easily find herself continuing her education past 17, 18 or even 19 years of age or older and within a disciplinary regime far more rigid than anything that might have been encountered in the outside world even at that time. Now imagine a situation wherein such an environment has been recreated, down to the tiniest minutiae of Victoriana at the whim of the guardian of a pair of teenage sisters, both already trained by the time of the beginning of the story to the point of complete and accepting docility. Now imagine two of our heroines from volume 2, our modern day misses, albeit somewhat tamed by their experience in the institution in which they have been recently incarcerated, delivered to the door and staring astounded at what appears to be a view of from a bygone age.

The part about the stiff, high, collars has been largely influenced by input from an e-mail correspondent of mine but also, more recently, by having seen a series recently screened on UK television - see the picture above that I scanned in from some television magazine or other (I forget which). So having been stimulated off I went typing search terms into Google such as “stiff collars + discipline”. I came across a couple of quite interesting links, that I will post up later this evening I also came across this great little drawing - it really sums up the possibilities when one is no longer constricted by convention; such as if one were returning a small group of girls of above school age to the world of school-room discipline behind high walls, shuttered windows and locked doors. The design of the school chairs in particular is devilish, consisting of little more than a narrow and uncomfortable perch and leaving the rear of the buttocks permanently within reach of the correction of their master’s cane. (Note the hooks on the wall, waiting to receive their school knickers upon entry.


Angie said...

Hello, and what a fascinating blog you have.

The ideas of such strict home schooling are scary and fascinating, and that detention room pic is one of my all time faves!

Toyntanen said...

Thanks for the kind remarks, Angie. I quite agree about the subject and as for the pic, its the seating arrangements that caught my eye, very imaginative. It's one of my all time faves also; I wish I knew who drew it and if their are any more on the subject out there somewhere. By the way, you folks out there can always email me directly at