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 May Wynne’s “The honour of the school” published in 1918, has one of the most curious dustjackets I’ve ever seen. Who wouldn’t want to take this book off the shelf to find out what happens? The story begins traditionally with a new girl arriving at Polgrath school, which is housed in an old manor house on the Cornish coast, providing an exciting setting of wild sea, rugged cliffs,  and smugglers’ caves. The war intrudes mainly during meals: weak tea, no sugar and “war bread” which is unpopular. But the war is only the background to the real adventures: before a fortnight has passed the girls have been trapped in a smugglers’ cave and blown up a woodshed when practising chemical experiments. After a single morning recovering with her Latin grammar the heroine manages to fall down a cliff, and is rescued by a young man in khaki, who has come from Canada “to fight the Germans”, his ship has been torpedoed and he has swum ashore. Beat that.

Still wondering why the hero has been hiding behind the panelling in the picture gallery? I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the surprise ending. Read it and find out!

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