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Tom Brown's School Days

Thomas Hughes

Book Overview: 

Tom Brown’s School Days is a novel by Thomas Hughes. The story is set at Rugby School, a public school for boys, in the 1830s.

The novel was originally published as being “by an Old Boy of Rugby”, and much of it is based on the author’s experiences. Tom Brown is largely based on the author’s brother, George Hughes; and George Arthur, another of the book’s main characters, is based on Arthur Penrhyn Stanley. The fictional Tom’s life also resembles the author’s in that the culminating event of his school career was a cricket match.

Tom Brown was tremendously influential on the genre of British school novels, which began in the 19th century, and is one of the few still in print.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Madam Brown had supplied the biggest cake ever seen in our village; and Tom was really as sorry to leave them as they to lose him, but his sorrow was not unmixed with the pride and excitement of making a new step in life.

And this feeling carried him through his first parting with his mother better than could have been expected. Their love was as fair and whole as human love can be, perfect self-sacrifice on the one side, meeting a young and true heart on the other. It is not within the scope of my book, however, to speak of family relations, or I should have much to say on the subject of English mothers,—ay, and of English fathers, and sisters, and brothers too.

Neither have I room to speak of our private schools: what I have to say is about public schools, those much-abused and much-belauded institutions peculiar to England. So we must hurry through Master Tom's year at a private school as fast as we can.

It was a fair average speci. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is the story of a boy, Tom Brown, and his years at Rugby school during the tenure of Thomas Arnold as headmaster, in the early Victorian era.

Unless you're a hopeless anglophile, you might prefer watching one of the dramatisations of this story. (The made-for-television film with Stephen Fry...more

I made a lot of connections between this 1857 English novel and Robert Cormier's 1977 novel The Chocolate War. I wrote a 20 page paper comparing the two and how they portray Catholic schools negatively, and are really novels for adults, rather than children.

A must read for any of the legions of Flashman fanatics (like myself) if only for a better understanding of what George MacDonald Fraser was satirizing in his famous, and infamous Flashman, series. Of course, this was aimed at Victorian boys to inspire them to be better Victorian gentlemen and no...more

Not going to lie, I skimmed part 2 once I realized that the author was trying to shove religion and the Military Lie down my throat.

Read for ENGL 2238: Children's Literature


This book struck me as being the boys' version of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women - the same mixture of stories of childhood events and moralizing. Not being a boy nor from England, this one didn't make the same connection with me that Alcott's classic did.

I was spurred to read this by the...more

I hate to admit it, but my introduction to young Master Brown was via George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series. Fraser’s anti-hero was based on Hughes’ school bully, Harry Flashman. I hate to admit it even more, but Fraser’s Flashman is such a likeable villain; I actually put off reading Hughes’...more

A children's classic - but one of those written for all ages, which is how books were written at the time. There was no shame in a child and his/her parent sharing the same favourites. So, a classic, a debut novel (really an only novel) and a singular account of school life in the Victorian era u...more

Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes is one of the first (if not the first) books about boys and adventures in public school life. First published in 1857, Hughes was looking to write a novel for boys that would tell about the public school life “in a right spirit but distinctly aimed at being...more

I was surprised by the way this book made me feel like a boy-detesting maiden aunt. It wasn't as if I didn't have a pretty good idea of what was in it beforehand, but really, they're unlikable little thugs, the boys in this book. If they're not shooting peas at passers-by and bribing their way ou...more

[These notes were made in 1984:]. Despite the preachiness and rather offensive Toryism, I rather enjoyed this - really the grand-daddy of school-stories. The shape is so familiar - from new boy through various troubles to responsible upper-school-man, the whole thing ending with a gala of some so...more

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