When I was little, Enid Blyton ranked high on my list of favourite authors (she still does really). I was borderline obsessed with her ‘Famous Five’ series, which I ranked higher than her ‘Secret Seven’ series and had a bit of a disdain towards anyone who thought otherwise! The ‘Famous Five’s adventures always seemed more real, more exciting and I think I had a bit of a crush on George (she was totally a lesbian in waiting!)
One book series had a profound impact on me, an impact I hadn’t really thought about until recently. I used to get the Malory Towers series from my local library, I would read them I one sitting and fantasise about going to a place like Malory Towers. It seemed such a brilliant place. I wanted the sort of friendship that Darrell found, the companionship and the chance to shine. Miss Grayling seemed like a marvellous headmistress, I loved her speech the new girls on their first day :-
“One day you will leave school and go out into the world as young women. You should take with you eager minds, kind hearts, and will to help. You should take with you a good understanding of many things, and a willingness to accept responsibility and show yourselves as women to be loved and trusted.” – p25 (Egmont edition, 2006)
I’ve always felt that this is the sort of wisdom that all girls should hear and no one will ever convince me that the Malory Towers series belong in a different age. In the stories Darrell learns responsibility, she learns about friendship and being kind to others. There are moments in the books where Darrell is downright mean (her first treatment of Sally Hope and Mary-Lou) but she learns fast that she must not judge others so harshly. In my all time favourite instalment ‘In the Fifth at Malory Towers’ the girls put on a pantomime, you can probably work out why this book is my favourite – not only was the performance side part of the story, the goings on behind the scenes played a huge part.
I wish that someone would make a TV series or film based on the Malory Towers series, not an update or a modern setting or grittier but a proper adaptation.