This is the second volume of a trilogy that describes the life of Reginald Grove, a country GP, who began his medical career in the late Victorian period after training at Guy’s Hospital, London.
It vividly describes his life at boarding school from aged eight to eighteen. The fictional life of Victorian boarding schools is well known from Dicken’s description of Dotheboys Hall, in ‘Nicolas Nickleby’ featuring the sadistic Headmaster, Wackford Squeers to Thomas Hughes’s ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’, remembered chiefly for the brutish bully, the infamous Harry Flashman, at Rugby School.
But there are very few accounts based on true life. This is one of them.
Using his diaries and other contemporary documents, it portrays his life as a chorister at King’s College Chapel Cambridge, and then at Uppingham School under the great Victorian Headmaster, Edward Thring. The brutality described in the fictious accounts is replaced by a more balanced portrait of school life describing lessons in the classics, sports and games, punishments, the battle for moral purity, sixth form privileges and the friendships that he made. He left Uppingham a good all rounder, presented with a medal by Thring ‘for good work and unblemished character’. On the last day of the summer term 1887 ‘all the house came to my dormitory very early to say goodbye to me’.
It was an emotional end to his school life.