Wednesday, 19 September 2012

School books

"As for the few textbooks  that the class possessed, you could hardly look at them without feeling as though you had stepped back into the mid-nineteenth century.  There were only three textbooks of which each child had a copy.  One was a shilling arithmetic,  pre-War but fairly serviceable, and another was a horrid little book called The Hundred Page History of Britain --a nasty little duodecimo book with a gritty brown cover, and, for frontispiece, a portrait of Boadicea with a Union Jack draped over the front of her chariot.....

The date of the book was 1888.   Dorothy, who had never seen a history book of this description before, examined it with a feeling approaching horror.  There was also an extraordinary little 'reader' dated 1863.  It consisted mostly of bits out of Fenimore Cooper, Dr. Watts and Lord Tennyson, and at the end there were the queerest little 'Nature Notes' with woodcut illustrations.  There would be a woodcut of an elephant and underneath in small print: 'The Elephant is a sagacious beast.  He rejoices in the shade of the Palm Trees, and though stronger than six horses he will allow a little child to lead him.  His food is Bananas.'  And so on to the Whale, the Zebra, the Porcupine and the Spotted Camelopard."

A Clergyman's Daughter  George Orwell

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