Goodbye, Mr. Chips
|Goodbye, Mr. Chips|
Cover of the UK first edition
|Publisher||Little, Brown (USA)
Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
|Publication date||June 1934
October 1934 (UK)
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (originally, Good-bye, Mr. Chips) is a novella about the life of a schoolteacher, Mr. Chipping, written by the English writer James Hilton, first published by Hodder & Stoughton in October 1934. The novel has been adapted into two films and two television adaptations.
The story had originally been issued as a supplement to the British Weekly, an evangelical newspaper, in 1933 but came to prominence when it was reprinted as the lead piece of the April 1934 issue of The Atlantic. The success of the Atlantic Monthly publication prompted a book deal between the author and Little, Brown and Company. Little, Brown published the first printing of this story in book form in June 1934. The Great Depression was a factor for most publishing houses and Little Brown was no exception; they carefully released a small first printing. Public demand for more was immediate, and Little Brown went into an almost immediate reprinting the same month. The demand continued and Little Brown continued to reprint the book for many months with at least two reprintings per month. The first printing of the British edition was in October 1934. This edition was published by Hodder & Stoughton who had the benefit of observing the success of Little Brown and released a larger first printing. Even with this benefit, Hodder & Stoughton found themselves going into reprints as the public's demand for the book was enormous. After the huge success of this book, James Hilton became a best-selling author.
The novel tells the story of a much-beloved schoolteacher, Mr. Chipping, and his forty-three-year-long tenure at Brookfield Grammar School, a fictional second-rate British boys’ public boarding school located in the hypothetical village of Brookfield, situated in the Fenlands. Mr. Chipping is an orthodox personality. He conquers his inability to connect with his students, as well as his initial shyness, when he marries Katherine, a young woman whom he meets on holiday and who quickly picks up on calling him by his nickname, "Chips". Despite his own mediocre academic record, he goes on to have an illustrious career as an inspiring educator and a strict disciplinarian at Brookfield. In his later years, his sense of humour suddenly bloomed into a quaint richness that pleased everyone, but was without any malice.
Although the book is unabashedly sentimental, it also depicts the sweeping social changes that Chips experiences throughout his life: he begins his tenure at Brookfield in September 1870, at the age of 22, as the Franco-Prussian War was breaking out and lay on his deathbed shortly after Adolf Hitler's rise to power, in November 1933, at the age of 85. He was seen as an individual who was able to connect to anyone on a human level, beyond what he (by proxy of his late wife) viewed as petty politics, such as the strikers, the Boers, and a German friend.
The work evinces a nostalgia for the Victorian social order that had faded rapidly after Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 and whose remnants were destroyed by the First World War. Indeed, a recurring motif is the devastating impact of the war on British society. When World War I broke out, Chips, who had retired the year before at age 65, agreed to come out of retirement to fill in for the various masters who had entered military service. During the war, when he heard of the first Old Brookfieldian’s death while fighting with the French, he recollected, that a hundred years ago, Brookfieldians had died, fighting against Napoleon and the French; and thought of it to be strange in a way, that how the sacrifices of one generation had so cancelled out those of the other. Despite his being taken for a doddering fossil, it was Chips who showed presence of mind when he kept his wits about him during an air raid, averting mass panic and sustaining morale, even finding the students an amusing incident in the story of ancient Julius Caesar. Countless old boys and masters died on the battlefield, and the latter part of the story involves Chips’ response to the horrors unleashed by the war, though most of it deals with the time of peace. At one point, he read aloud a long roster of the school's fallen alumni, and, defying the modern world he saw as soulless and lacking transcendent values of honour and friendship, dared to include the name of a German former master who had died fighting on the opposite side, with the Germans. His inclusion of the late German master in the tragic list was just considered one of Chips’ ideas, something not taken very seriously. During the War, he earned the adjective ‘pre-war’ due to his old, queer, anti-War ideas.
Mr. Chips is portrayed as a strong conservative and as a person who despised everything modern. Two important contacts with modernity are depicted in the novel; one, the encounter with the progressive-minded, girl-wife, Mrs. Katherine Bridges and the second with the hard-liner, anti-conservative personality, Mr. Ralston, the third headmaster of the school. Despite the fact that both of these modernists disapproved of the old ways of Mr. Chips, the contact with Kathie proved to be a healthy influence on him, due to her tolerant, loveable, understanding, and persuasive nature; whereas Ralston tried to impose modernity upon him and tried to force him to following modern ways, least caring about his deep-rooted ideas. The result was a quarrel between Ralston and Chips, in which Chips eventually won. This quarrel can be best described as a clash of conservativeness and unconventionality, where old ideas ultimately prevailed due to their deep-rootedness.
The setting for Goodbye Mr. Chips is probably based on The Leys School, Cambridge, where James Hilton was a pupil (1915–18). Hilton is reported to have said that the inspiration for the protagonist, Mr. Chips, came from many sources, including his father, who was the headmaster of Chapel End School. However, Mr. Chips is also likely to have been based on W.H. Balgarnie, one of the masters at The Leys (1900–30), who was in charge of the Leys Fortnightly (in which Hilton's first short stories and essays were published). Over the years, old boys have written to Geoffery Houghton, a master of The Leys for a number of years and a historian of the school, confirming the links between Chipping and Balgarnie, who eventually died at Porthmadog at the age of 82. He had been linked with the school for 51 years and spent his last years in modest lodgings opposite. Again, like Mr. Chips, Balgarnie was a strict disciplinarian, but would also invite boys to visit him for tea and biscuits.
Hilton wrote upon Balgarnie's death that "Balgarnie was, I suppose, the chief model for my story. When I read so many other stories about public school life, I am struck by the fact that I suffered no such purgatory as their authors apparently did, and much of this miracle was due to Balgarnie." Furthermore, the "mutton chop" facial hair of one of the masters at The Leys earned him the nickname "Chops", a likely inspiration for Mr Chips’ name.
In Hilton's final novel, Time and Time Again (1953), protagonist Charles Anderson bears clear biographical similarities to Hilton himself. Early in the novel, Anderson briefly reminisces about attending Brookfield and knowing "Chips".
This is the best known screen version, starring Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Terry Kilburn, John Mills and Paul Henreid. Donat won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the lead role, beating Clark Gable, James Stewart, Laurence Olivier and Mickey Rooney.
While some of the incidents depicted in the various screen adaptations do not appear in the book, this film is generally faithful to the original story.
The exteriors of the buildings of the fictional Brookfield School were filmed at Repton School, an independent school (at the time of filming, for boys only), located in the village of Repton, in Derbyshire, in the Midlands area of England, whilst the interiors, school courtyards and annexes, including the supposedly exterior shots of the Austrian Tyrol Mountains, were filmed at Denham Film Studios, near the village of Denham in Buckinghamshire. Around 200 boys from Repton School stayed on during the school holidays so that they could appear in the film.
In 1969, a relatively unsuccessful musical film version appeared, starring Peter O’Toole and Petula Clark, with songs by Leslie Bricusse and an underscore by John Williams. This version moved the timeline forward, with Chips’ career beginning in the early 20th century and later career covering World War II, rather than World War I. O’Toole and Clark were widely praised for their performances. At the 42nd Academy Awards, O’Toole was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, and he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
A stage production based on the 1969 film, and using largely the same music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, was mounted at the Chichester Festival and opened on 11 August 1982. The book was by Roland Starke and the production was directed by Patrick Garland and Christopher Selbie. Among the Chichester Festival cast were John Mills as Mr. Chips, Colette Gleeson as Kathie, Nigel Stock as Max, and Michael Sadler and Robert Meadmore in supporting roles.
In 1984, it was adapted as a television serial by the BBC. It starred Roy Marsden and Jill Meager and ran for six half-hour episodes. Many scenes were filmed at Repton School, Derbyshire in an effort to remain faithful to the original film.
2002 TV film
Another television adaptation, a TV film, was produced by STV Productions (then known as "SMG TV Productions") in 2002. It aired on the ITV Network in Britain and on PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre in the United States. It starred Martin Clunes and Victoria Hamilton with Henry Cavill, William Moseley, Oliver Rokison and Harry Lloyd.
- To Serve Them All My Days, a 1972 novel of R. F. Delderfield, shows many similar plot elements to Goodbye, Mr. Chips.
- "''Atlantic'' on education". The Atlantic. Retrieved 11 April 2011..
- "Milestones". Time. 30 July 1951. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
- Timothy Carroll (9 December 2002). "Who was the real Mr Chips?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
- "Movies made in the Midlands". Sunday Mercury. Retrieved March 2011.
- "Repton, Derbyshire". greatbritishlife.co.uk. Retrieved March 2011.
- Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 11 April 2011
- "1930s: A year of tragedy and war worries". youandyesterday.com. Retrieved March 2011.
- Other scenes were filmed at Christ College, Brecon; with many of the school's pupils taking roles in the production. BBC Derby
- Goodbye, Mr. Chips (2002 TV) at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 11 April 2011