Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Girls Will Be Girls

Many readers may remember St. Trinian's School for (Bad) Girls, both the most recent movie (which is delightful, by the way :D), and the fantastically illustrated collection which inspired the films (masterpieces of the accomplished artist, Ronald Searle).

Many readers may also remember that, to kick off a fanciful discussion of said illustrations, I paid a moment of tribute to the lovely adage, "Girls will be girls," as so beautifully depicted by Searle himself as the cover for a novel by Arthur Marshall of the same title.

This phrase is particularly special to me because, as many may point out, it is usually used as "Boys will be boys," much in the same way that so many time-honored spanking stories (particularly those involving schools) featured boys, rather than girls, getting in trouble and facing consequences. While I can relate easily enough to a young male spankee in a school-themed story, it is always a surprise and a pleasure when I happen to stumble across something of the same or similar time period written from the perspective of a spankee who shares my gender! :D

Little did I know, dear readers, that my musings on the subject, and my innocent posting of the above illustration, would lead to a surprise gift from two of my dearest friends in the spanking scene, Abel and Haron of The Spanking Writers.

What did I find in my mail recently but the very book, "Girls Will Be Girls," by Arthur Marshall himself, published in 1974, an original edition.

Happily turning the pages of the delightful volume brought to my senses not only literary images of many-a-girl in many sticky situations, but also the crisp, awakening scent of the time-honored leafs in an old book -- the incense of a library... I love books!

Inside, one can find a world of hilarity and popular culture, as per British 1970s and much earlier. From Isadora Duncan to Diaghilev, from Virginia Woolf to Stanislavsky, from Chopin to Beethoven, Marshall makes liberal use of classical references...

From India and Japan to France, Spain, Germany, and Switzerland, from Los Angeles and Venezuela to Sarajevo, our girls' adventures hop around the planet in pell-mell worldliness...

Common and classic tourist and school field-trip stops include Wimbledon, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, and Eton, the last of which features (of course) more than once...

From churches and cathedrals to parades, O.T.C. camp, and submarines, from lacrosse to hockey to cricket, from three-inch heels and knitted sweaters to flutes, fire alarms, and ginger snaps, the activities and loci operandi of our girls run the gamut!

All manner of school-related happenings and players come into view, from school songs to punishments, from Housemasters, professors, Matrons, and Headmistresses to schoolgirls, prefects, and head girls...

And from Earl Grey tea, Victorian etiquette, and the "Edwardian social scene" to “freer ‘American’ manners,” from the B.B.C. to Shakespeare, and Javanese princes, police, and musketeers to dukes, earls, barons, and baronets, the variety and multiplicity of cultural references rampant in this short novel proves to be quite dizzying!

A few of my favorite quotes from "Girls Will Be Girls" include, as early as page 30, "A Schoolgirl in Switzerland is a riot of violent wiggings* from the headmistress and stern punishments..." (Marshall provides prolific reviews of "Books for Girls" in this work, with comments on upwards of 70 titles.)

On page 133, "Though this year's schoolgirl stories are milk-and-water when compared with the Brazilian glories of yesteryear, there are indications that authoresses are once more concentrating on the sensible, basic subjects such as lying, cheating, [and] squabbling..." All of which, I daresay, incur exactly what kind of consequences...? :)

Then on page 153, Marshall is on a role when he writes about Richard Wortley's Pin-Up's Progress: "There is a sufficiency of... bare, female buttocks, so especially dear to the male heart... Why were naked bottoms found particularly aphrodisiac when closely associated with bicycles? The leather saddles, perhaps?..."

And then goes on to describe why "White knickers are best for photographic purposes..."

Perhaps one of the juicier morsels, however, turns up a few leafs earlier, on page 150: "Though Victorian guilt about sexual activities is with us still, it was paradoxically the heyday of special treats, thwackings particularly... Sadism was rife. Daughters were regularly whipped, their fathers helpfully suggesting improved methods: 'Nothing like leather! Cut a strap into strips and let your governess lay your daughter down upon an ottoman after evening prayers..."

Goodness gracious! What a fantastically wonderful compendium of literary frivolity! :D Thank you, oh so much, dear Abel and Haron, for this timely and truly inspiring gift :)

P.S. I can't go without mentioning for you, dear readers, the lovely card which accompanied this present: an inspiration in and of itself! :D

*"wigging," for those in need of British slang translation, can be seen as synonymous with "reprimanding" or "scolding." : )

Bicycle painting by Joop Moesman,
Card illustration by Lynn Paula Russell


  1. This is such a fun post, Rayne. I also love that old book smell. Congratulations on the lovely new tome!


  2. I've always suspected that Arthur Marshall contributed to Janus. There was a story about two girls, sent to the headmistress, that was unusually evocative and reminiscent of his style.

  3. Ahhhhh very astute observation, Petruchio -- I wouldn't doubt it!

  4. So glad you liked it :-) We were so delighted to find a copy for you!

  5. Thank you again, Abel! You and Haron are so thoughtful! :D

  6. Rayne nice article used to enjoy call my bluff on BBB.television with him ,he was a great fan of girls school stories and did sketches on gramophone records and the radio BBC.,love and spanks ,tim xx

  7. @Rayne We have to talk girl! I will email you.