Clare Mallory

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Clare Mallory is the penname under which Winifred Constance McQuilkan Hall (25 September 1913 - 20 April 1991) wrote ten children's books published between 1947 and 1951.

Clare Mallory is primarily remembered as a superior exponent of the girls' School story. Prior to her marriage she was headmistress of a day and boarding school in Dunedin, New Zealand and in her short autobiography published in Hugh Anderson's The Singing Roads (Wentworth Press, 1965) she describes her first books as coming from stories she made up to entertain her students while they prepared food parcels for Britain.

The Encyclopaedia of Girls' School Stories describes Clare Mallory as 'one of the best exponents of the classical school story'(p. 211) She doesn't break new ground but rather stays true to the traditional elements of the genre, populating her stories with tall, authoritative Head Girls, forceful Games Captains, respected albeit distant Head Mistresses and a cast of likeable juniors of assorted ages. If there is a recurring theme to her stories it is the importance of belonging. This possibly relates to Mallory's own life. She lost both her parents while a teenager and completed her schooling while living in lodgings. Mallory's heroes relish the ties that bind. Merry is 'second generation Tremaynes', Juliet travels 12,000 miles to attend the school her grandfather helped found, Leith thinks she is looking for a particular friend but discovers instead the value of belonging to a community. For Mallory the School or more specifically in several books, the House, represents a place where one can belong.

Biography[edit]

Clare Mallory was born in Invercargill, New Zealand in 1913. She attended Southland Girls' High School where she was dux, University of Otago in Dunedin where she studied English and Latin, graduating with an M.A., and Somerville College, Oxford where she gained a First in English language. She returned to New Zealand to teach and was appointed Headmistress of Columba College, Dunedin in 1942. She left that position when she married Frank Hall in 1949. After her marriage she lived in London for a few years but came back to New Zealand where she remained until her death in 1991.

Literary influences[edit]

Clare Mallory dedicated Juliet Overseas to Josephine Elder, author of what she described as 'the best school story I know'. Her admiration for Elder's book Evelyn Finds Herself was later reflected in Leith and Friends in which she uses a similar framework to explore the same themes of friendship and self-discovery. In The Singing Roads, Mallory identifies Leith and Friends as having been 'hailed in England as the best school story for many years'(p. 60). Elder's influence on Mallory's writing can also be seen in The League of the Smallest which is thematically linked to Elder's 1927 school story Thomasina Toddy.

Brenda Page was another influence on Mallory's writing. Page's 1927 school story Schoolgirl Rivals is obviously Mallory's inspirational source for Juliet Overseas. In the early chapters the similarities between the two books are particularly apparent with sentences being transposed with slight or no alteration; she was a stranger in a strange land becomes She was a new girl in a strange land; a crowd of passengers from another train swarmed across the platform becomes a little crowd of passengers from another train hurried across the platform. As the stories progress however Mallory strikes off firmly on her own taking her story to a level of excellence in characterisation and plotting that far surpasses the earlier book.

Bibliography[edit]

"Merry" series

    • Merry Begins (OUP, 1947)
    • Merry Again (OUP, 1947)
    • Merry Marches On (OUP, 1947)

N.B. At the end of Merry Marches On there is a note citing a fourth book Tremaynes Trans Tasman as being in preparation. In her article in The Singing Roads, Mallory states that she has renamed this book Merry In Australia and is working on it. In fact, no book of either title was ever published. Someone who worked at the Melbourne office of OUP still recalled fifty years later how frequently they received queries from the public about it.

    • The Pen and Pencil Girls (OUP, 1948?)
    • Juliet Overseas (OUP, 1949)
    • The New House at Winwood (OUP, 1949)
    • Tony Against the Prefects (OUP, 1949)
    • Leith and Friends (OUP, 1950)
    • The Two Linties (OUP, 1950)
    • The League of the Smallest (OUP, 1951)

References[edit]

    • The Singing Roads / Hugh Anderson (Wentworth Press, 1965)
    • The Encyclopaedia of Girls' School Stories / Sue Sims and Hilary Clare (Ashgate, 2000)
    • Schoolgirl Rivals / Brenda Page (Cassell, 1927)