Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tom Wildrake's Schooldays

Boys of Bircham School, by George Emmett, which began 8 June 1867 in the Young Engishman’s Journal,* is generally acknowledged to be the first penny dreadful boys’ school story, father to Tom Wildrake, Jack Harkaway, Tom Merry, Billy Bunter and scads of others. Emmett’s Bircham School led to another school story, Tom Wildrake’s Schooldays, which began in the Sons of Britannia in Volume I sometime in 1870.

In August 1872 the serial was taken over by E. Harcourt Burrage who sent Tom Wildrake out to sea. Every boys school story from now on would follow this pattern, first the heroes schooldays then a setting out to sea and foreign adventures. Burrage may have been influenced by Vane Ireton St. John who was the real pioneer of the school/sea adventure with Who Shall be Leader? Or, the Schooldays of Frank and Hal, appearing in The Boys’ of England from November 1866.

Tom Wildrake’s Schooldays was soon issued in sixty-four weekly parts for a total of 890 pages. The pictures below from the Sons of Britannia serial is actually Part II of the serial for 14 March of 1871, Vol.II No. 48.

The Authors Own Edition was advertised in Boys of Britannia on February 25, 1871.

*The Young Englishman’s Journal No. 1 April 13, 1867 to March 9, 1870 was incorporated with No. 1 of The Sons of Britannia on March 14, 1870.

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