A map of Greyfriars School
|Type||Independent fictional boarding school
|Religion||Church of England|
|Headmaster||The Rev Herbert Henry Locke, D.D.|
|Chairman of the Board of Governors||Sir Hilton Popper|
|Publication||The Greyfriars Herald|
|Created by||Charles Hamilton writing as Frank Richards|
Greyfriars School is a fictional English public school used as a setting in the long-running series of stories by the writer Charles Hamilton, who wrote under the pen-name Frank Richards. Although the stories are focused on the Remove (or lower fourth form), whose most famous pupil was Billy Bunter, other characters also featured on a regular basis.
From 1908 to 1940, the stories appeared in The Magnet, in a total of 1,683 weekly issues. After 1940, the stories continued to appear in book form until Hamilton's death in 1961. Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School was broadcast as a BBC television series from 19 February 1951 to 22 July 1961. A comic strip was published in Knockout (drawn by Frank Minnitt) from 1939 to 1958, and then drawn by various other artists until Knockout merged with Valiant, in which comic strips continued to appear from 23 February 1963 to 16 October 1976.
- 1 Location
- 2 Organisation
- 3 Ethos
- 4 Style and themes
- 5 Storylines
- 6 Characters
- 7 In other fiction
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Greyfriars School is situated in the county of Kent. The school lies on the fictional river Sark, upstream of the nearby village of Friardale and downstream of the market town of Courtfield. It is near the coast: the fishing village of Pegg is described as being within a mile (1.6 km). There are two other public schools nearby, Cliff House girls school and Highcliffe. Farther away are the towns of Lantham and Wapshott.
The school consists of seven forms, loosely based on age groups. Each form has its own Form Master, who take the majority of the lessons. Specialist masters are used for French, sports and mathematics.
Unusually, both in terms of real-life public schools and their fictional counterparts, Greyfriars School does not have a House system. In the early Magnet stories, this created a problem for the author in that inter-house rivalries are a useful source of plot conflicts in many fictional school stories. To compensate for this, Frank Richards created three separate forms of similar age groups at Greyfriars (the Lower Fourth, the Fourth and the Upper Fourth) as well as rival characters in the neighbouring Highcliffe School. As the stories developed, the time would come when plot conflicts would arise naturally from the minutely detailed characters that were fleshed out over the years.
The school is supervised by a Board of Governors, whose members include the buffoonish local landowner, Sir Hilton Popper, as well as Colonel Wharton and Major Cherry, both relatives of prominent characters in the Greyfriars Remove (Lower Fourth) form.
Boys spend most of the day in class, or in their spare time either in a common room, on the sports fields, or in shared studies; they sleep in shared dormitories. Breakfast and lunch are taken communally. A modest high tea in hall is also provided (disparagingly known as "doorsteps and dishwater"), but most of the boys prefer to make their own arrangements in their studies.
While the masters naturally emphasise scholastic matters, for the pupils (and readership) it is physical activities that are at the heart of the school's ethos. Prowess at sports is the best route to popularity and respect, while over-attainment at study is something of lesser, if not negative, importance. Disputes are often settled by fights, with the invariable, if unrealistic, outcome that virtue triumphs over vice. Corporal punishment is widely used by the masters and by the Sixth Form prefects. The ultimate punishment, short of expulsion, is a birching administered by the saintly headmaster, Dr Locke. Lesser punishments are lines (copying out a hundred lines from a Latin text by the classical author Virgil), or for really serious infractions among the older forms a 'book' (copying out a complete Latin text by Virgil, which might be up to 952 lines. There is also a Punishment Room ("Punny") which, in rare and particularly serious cases, may be used to keep an offender in solitary confinement for a number of days.
Style and themes
Hamilton’s writing style has been compared with that of his contemporary P G Wodehouse. A light and distinctive prose style combines with a strong comedic element and a large ensemble of strongly-drawn characters. The exceptional volume of material produced by Hamilton over his writing career allowed both characters and locations to be developed in great depth.
Observations of contemporary life and satire are found in Hamilton's work, and he frequently uses his characters as mouthpieces to make telling ironic points:
"The old bounder's unemployed," said Bunter. "Fairly up against it, you know. Can't get a job. My opinion is they won't work. I've heard my pater say so. I remember, last evening of the holidays, seeing my pater sitting in his armchair, sipping his port, and saying it was all due to slacking and drink."
In particular, he had little respect for professions or pretensions, and politicians, lawyers and stockbrokers are regularly at the sharp end of his cynical prose.
The style of the stories evolved over the years. For the first decade, the stories tended to be complete episodes. This was also a development period in which the author established his style. During the 1920s, the format gradually changed to serials; this was also a period of character development in which many of the large cast of characters were given their own storylines in turn. Many commentators agree that the "golden age" of Greyfriars stories was in the period 1930 to 1934, when the standard of plotlines and mellow humour reached its peak; while after 1934, the high standard of plot construction continued, but plots and themes were increasingly repeated.
Hamilton’s work has attracted criticism, most notably from George Orwell in a 1940 essay published in Horizon magazine. Orwell described Hamilton’s style as easily imitated (to facilitate substitute writers), plagiarist, and largely comprising shallow right wing content. He also expressed incredulity that stories spanning 30 years could have been authored by the same individual. The key passage in his essay, which was to provoke a strong response from Hamilton, is reproduced below.
The year is 1910, or 1940, it is all the same. You are at Greyfriars. A rosy-cheeked boy of fourteen in posh tailor-made clothes is sitting down to tea in your study on the Remove passage, after an exciting game of football which was won by an odd goal in the last half-minute. There is a cosy fire in your study; outside the wind is whistling, the ivy clusters thickly round the old grey stone, the King is on his throne, and the pound is worth a pound. Over in Europe the comic foreigners are jabbering and gesticulating; but the grim grey battleships of the British Fleet are steaming up the Channel, and at the outposts of Empire the monocled Englishmen are holding the niggers at bay. Lord Mauleverer has just got another fiver and we are settling down to a tremendous tea of sausages, sardines, crumpets, potted meat, jam and doughnuts. After tea, we shall sit round the study fire having a good laugh at Billy Bunter and discussing the team for next week's match against Rookwood. Everything is safe, solid and unquestionable. Everything will be the same for ever and ever.
Hamilton's response to this criticism was presented in an article published in the same magazine shortly afterwards, in which he rebutted each of Orwell’s points.
Other commentators have challenged the view that Hamilton’s work can be narrowly categorised as right wing, drawing attention to examples of his output that demonstrate strong independent views. Over the years, Hamilton was ever ready to air unfashionable causes to his young audience, but did so in a way that did not attract controversy or jeopardise publication of his stories. Anti-capitalism, early Socialism, the Suffragette movement and conscientious objectors during World War I all received sympathetic treatment in Hamilton’s work. In an age when the word "nigger" was not yet regarded in the same pejorative sense that applies today, Hamilton's work consistently emphasised the offensive nature of the term from as early as 1922; and his output even included unfashionable anti-British sentiments in stories set against the background of imperial India.
The extraordinary volume of output of Greyfriars stories inevitably meant that plotlines and themes were repeated, though usually involving different characters and novel twists. In the early years, this often meant stories that were resolved across 1-2 issues; but by the early 1930s a series would typically take 8-12 weekly issues to play out.
Characters with double lives
An oft-repeated theme involves the arrival of a new character at the school who turns out to be not quite what he seems. Dick Lancaster joins the Greyfriars Sixth form in 1931 (Magnets #1209 to #1219) and immediately becomes one of the most popular men in the school: handsome, easy going and a fine cricketer. Unknown to his schoolfellows though, he is also the “Wizard” – a member of a criminal gang of burglars who is particularly skilled at safe-cracking.
Greyfriars turns out to be highly popular as a base for disguised burglars. The “Courtfield Cracksman” (Magnets #1138 to #1151) conceals himself by finding employment on the Greyfriars staff in 1930; as does “Jimmy the One” (Magnets #1247 to #1255) in 1931, and “Slim Jim” (Magnets #1660 to #1675) in 1939. In two of these cases Herbert Vernon-Smith has his suspicions – in one case he is proved right, and ends up in danger as a result; in the other case he is disastrously wrong, suspecting the undercover detective assigned to the case and befriending the real villain.
Rivals for a fortune
A variation on the former theme was the arrival of a new boy who turns out to be the secret enemy of an established Greyfriars character. Usually this involved a rivalry over an inheritance. An early example was the “Da Costa” series of 1928 (Magnets #1059 to #1067), when new arrival Arthur Da Costa attempts to disgrace Harry Wharton in an attempt to disinherit him of a large fortune. This plotline was repeated a number of times.
Coker’s younger cousin, Edgar Caffyn, one of the most unpleasant characters ever to appear in the stories, arrives at the school in 1935 (Magnets #1404 to #1412) with the intention of getting Coker expelled and replacing him as Aunt Judy’s heir. It is Billy Bunter’s turn in 1938, when his relation Arthur Carter, having been expelled from his previous school, has been disinherited by a wealthy uncle. He comes to Greyfriars with the intention of disgracing Bunter, his uncle’s new adopted heir (Magnets #1561 to #1572). In all of these storylines, the rascally newcomer is aided and abetted by an even more rascally lawyer.
Finally, in 1939, Herbert Vernon-Smith’s relative Bertie Vernon arrives at the school. Vernon is startlingly similar to Vernon-Smith in appearance, which allows a number of dramatic situations to develop before Vernon’s real purpose in coming to Greyfriars is revealed.
Many storylines have involved the arrival at Greyfriars of a relative who bears a startling resemblance to an existing character. Usually, the two "Doppelgangers" are of opposite character types, and are continuously mistaken for each other, enabling a number of plot conflicts to develop. As well as the Bertie Vernon series, mentioned above, other doppelgangers have included Billy Bunter's cousin Wally, Peter Todd's cousin Alonzo and Harry Wharton's relative Ralph Stacey (Magnets #1422 to #1433). The Stacey series, in particular, is rated by many commentators as being among the finest Greyfriars series written by Hamilton.
The rebellious Remove
The Remove included a number of naturally rebellious characters and several plotlines exploited this to the full. A typical storyline would involve an act of injustice or tyranny resulting in the juniors rising up in open rebellion against authority.
One of the first examples was the "Judge Jeffreys" series of 1917 (Magnets #501 to #505), in which a new head master, Mr Jeffreys, institutes a severe punishment regime, causing the Remove to lead a rebellion against his rule that ends in Mr Jeffreys being driven out by the whole school.
The “High Oaks Rebellion” series of 1928 (Magnets #1043 to #1049) sees Mr Quelch, the Remove Master, unjustly dismissed from the school through a malicious trick by Skinner. Led and financed by Lord Mauleverer, the Remove walk out of Greyfriars, set up their own school at High Oaks and defend it against a number of attempts to forcibly return them to Greyfriars.
The "Brander" series, from 1930 (Magnets #1169 to #1174) is a particularly notable example of this story type. Newcomer Otto van Tromp grievously injures Dr. Locke in an unscrupulous scheme to install his uncle, Mr. Brander, as the new headmaster of Greyfriars. In this, the pair enlist the assistance of the debt-laden chairman of the Greyfriars governors, Sir Hilton Popper, who owes money to Brander. Van Tromp becomes head prefect and abuses his position to such an extent that the Remove rise up in open rebellion and barricade themselves in the Remove passage. They are eventually joined by characters from other forms in the school, including fifth formers and prefects. Mr. Quelch, meanwhile, is dismissed by Brander, but invokes the school statutes that allow a dismissed master of long standing to remain at the school until his appeal is heard by the governors.
In 1934, Billy Bunter is expelled after being unjustly blamed for drenching Mr Prout in ink (Magnets #1374 to #1382). The Remove rise up in his support and build a fortified camp on Popper Island, which they successfully defend against a number of assaults by the prefects and other seniors.
Later in the same year, Headmaster Dr Locke and several senior prefects are hospitalised following a motor accident. Fifth form master Mr Prout takes over as temporary headmaster and appoints the bullying Gerald Loder as Head Prefect; as a result, a tyrannical regime develops at the school. Prompted by Vernon-Smith, the juniors form a secret society, the Secret Seven, to fight back. Although the Secret Seven has over 30 members, only 7, wearing masks, are ever seen to take part in active operations at any one time. The Magnet gave away a number of detective-themed promotional free gifts over the course of the series which were featured in the narrative of the stories.
After Dr Locke is again incapacitated in 1937, the temporary headmastership passes this time to Mr Hacker, unpopular Master of the Shell, who is supported by Sixth form bully Arthur Carne. The resultant tyranny again prompts the Remove to fight back; this time, they march out of the school and barricade themselves in the tuckshop (Magnets #1510 to #1515).
The summer holiday break, between the summer and Michaelmas terms, saw the Greyfriars juniors depart on a number of adventures away from the school. Frequently, this involved travel overseas.
The early Magnets saw some short trips to Europe, but it was not until 1922 that the first proper foreign travel series appeared. In Magnets #768 to #774 the juniors travel with Bob Cherry's cousin to Africa in search of buried ivory. The juniors revisited Africa with Mr Vernon-Smith in 1931 (Magnets #1228 to #1236).
In the India series of 1926 (Magnets #960 to #970) the juniors travel to Bhanipur with Colonel Wharton to ensure Hurree Singh's throne is kept safe against the machinations of foreign spies.
In 1927 the juniors visit the South Seas in Mr Vernon-Smith's yacht (Magnets #1017 to #1026), in search of Black Peter's treasure, which will make Redwing financially independent. The juniors revisited the Southern seas in 1938 (Magnets #1588 to #1598)
The longest foreign travel series came in 1929 (Magnets' 1092 to #1107), when Mr Fish took a party of juniors and seniors all the way across the United States to Hollywood to make a school film. Though the trip was sold to the school and parents as educational, the primary purpose of the trip was to make films with real schoolboys without paying them Hollywood rates. The juniors went to the US for a second time in 1938 (Magnets #1573 to #1582), this time to Texas, where they encountered another of Charles Hamilton's characters, the Rio Kid.
The Egypt series of 1932 (Magnets #1277 to #1284) follows the adventures of Billy Bunter, accompanied by Lord Mauleverer and the Famous Five, across Europe and the Mediterranean Sea to the North African deserts (a locale previously visited in the Sahara series of 1925). They are pursued by the villain Konstantine Kalizelos, who is convinced the schoolboys have a clue to the whereabouts of a fabulous lost jewel. Author Charles Hamilton never visited Egypt, and the authenticity of many of the descriptions and scenes in this series are remarkable. In particular, the characterisation of two Egyptians, the millionaire Hilmi Maroudi and the lower caste guide, Hassan the Dragoman, has won acclaim. These stories were partially reprinted in the Schoolboys Own Libraries before World War II and again by Armada in the 1970s, but both omitted the conclusion of the series.
The China Series of 1930 begins with the Remove junior, Wun Lun, menaced by the distant Chinese mandarin Tang Wang. Accompanied by Billy Bunter, the Famous Five and the detective Ferrers Locke, he returns to China via Hong Kong and Singapore. A series of adventures ensues. The author draws a vivid picture of a very different China ruled by Mandarins – a colourful land rich in history and ancient customs.
- The Rev Herbert Henry Locke, D.D. - The Headmaster, also the Sixth's Form Master – majestic, kindly, scholarly, unworldly, and just. In Chapter 2 of Magnet #28 (Aug 22 1908), Dr Locke's sister Amy calls him "Arthur".
- Paul Pontifex Prout Esq., M.A. - Master of the Fifth form. Known throughout the school as 'Old Pompous'. Pompous and ineffectual; good hearted, but a terrible bore, particularly when reminiscing about his years spent hunting in the Rockies in North America. He never uses one word where seven will do. Benevolent and kindly, he wants to be a friend to his pupils, as well as a Master, but because of his vanity his leg is rather easy to pull. His occasional delusion that he should be the headmaster forms the basis of some stories.
- Horace Manfred Hacker Esq., B.A. - Master of the Shell form. A petty tyrant. Unpopular with his boys and the school in general, he is usually referred to as 'The Acid Drop.'
- Algernon Jasper Capper, Esq., M.A. - Master of the Fourth form.
- Henry Samuel Quelch Esq., M.A. - Form Master of the Remove. Firm but fair ("a Beast, but a just Beast"), he stands no nonsense and does not spare the rod. Has spent many years working on a magnum opus on the history of Greyfriars, which is often referred to as 'Quelchy's tosh', and disappears periodically to work on it. His recreation consists of long walks around the countryside, usually referred to as 'Quelchy's grinds.' Quelch is physically strong for his age, a useful asset in a district that seems to be populated with footpads (i.e. muggers). A classical scholar, and fond of debating arcane minutiae in this field with Dr Locke and Mr Prout. Particularly devoted to Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace), but keen on all classical authors. In Magnet #132, chapter 9, Quelch's first name is given as Horace.
- Herbert Wiggins, Esq., M.A. - Master of the Third form.
- Eusebius Twigg, Esq., B.A., B.Sc. - Master of the Second form.
- Lawrence Lascelles - Mathematics and Games Master. One of the most popular masters in the school; nicknamed "Larry" by the juniors.
- M. Henri Carpenentier - French Master, known as "Mossoo". Originally from the French Loire region. Easy going and the subject of much leg-pulling by the Greyfriars juniors. His character and history was explored in some detail in a two part 1926 storyline (Magnet #950 and #951) where the reader learns that "Mossoo" works hard and lives sparely in order to support the family of his brother, who fell in the First World War. (To the little urchins in the house by the Loire, he was dear uncle and earthly Providence; to Greyfriars generally he was a harmless little ass; to Coker of the Fifth he was an offensive little beast. So widely may the point of view differ on the same subject.)
- Herr Otto Gans - German Master. Originally from Saxony and emphasises that he is not a Prussian during the years of the Great War.
- Mrs Jessie Mimble – Runs the school tuck shop. Kindly old lady; too smart to extend credit to Billy Bunter, who otherwise would be her best customer. Bunter often complains that Mrs Mimble does not understand that 'credit is the lifeblood of business.'
- William Gosling – School porter. Hates boys, who he considers to be 'young rips' and that they should be 'drownded at birth'. Loves gin. Owns to fifty nine years of age, though this is probably modesty on his part. Magnet #194 (1911), he calls himself James Gosling.
- Wingate, George Bernard - Captain of Greyfriars School; Head Prefect; Head of Games. A well-liked sporting hero, and the embodiment of decency. Maintains discipline, but is the most popular fellow in the school. Has a younger brother in the Third form. Lives in Chester.
- Benson, Howard - A studious fellow. Friend of Coker Minor.
- Carberry, George - A bullying prefect, disliked by most other members of the school, including the Masters, who was expelled for lying to Dr Locke to get Dicky Nugent sacked in 1910 (issue 107).
- Carne, Arthur Woodhead - a close associate of Gerald Loder and similarly a bully given to shady pursuits.
- Coker, Reginald (Minor) - Younger brother of Horace Coker of the Fifth form. Introduced in Magnet #241 - Coker Minor - Sixth Former (1912). Unlike his brother, he is weakly but a good scholar. Often picked upon by bullies but stoutly championed by his brother. Lives with his family in his Aunt Judy's house - Coker Place - in Surrey.
- Courtney, Arthur - a popular senior, straight and generous, and a fine sportsman. Tragically lost his life rescuing a school friend when the Cross Keys Inn was struck by a German incendiary bomb in 1918.
- Doone, Arthur (Major) - A big, burly senior and a strong supporter of Wingate. Has a brother in the Shell.
- Faulkner, Lawrence - A prefect and a friend of Wingate. He is a close friend of Tremaine - both are from the West Country.
- Gwynne, Patrick - A prefect and Wingate's closest friend. Gwynne is a sunny-tempered Irishman and is widely liked in the school.
- Hammersley, Vincent - A tall strapping prefect and an all-round sportsman.
- Ionides, Heracles - Son of a very wealthy Greek merchant, and scion of one of the oldest families in Greece. Fond of claiming that his ancestor fought alongside Leonidas at the classical battle of Thermopylae. Unusually for Greyfriars School, he makes heavy use of hair oil, face wash, and perfume. In his time, a bully and at least as bad a blackguard as Gerald Loder, Ionides vanished from the school and the stories, without explanation, during World War One.
- Lancaster, Richard - Was at Greyfriars for a few weeks only. Strikingly handsome and a brilliant cricketer, he rapidly became one of the most popular fellows in the school. Was eventually unmasked as a criminal cracksman known as the Wizard.
- Loder, Gerald Assheton – A prefect, but the antithesis of Wingate. He smokes, drinks, gambles, breaks bounds at night. Introduced in Magnet #66 (1909), not yet a prefect. Loder was made a Prefect in Magnet #107 The Cad of the Sixth (1910), following the expulsion of Carberry. He is a malicious bully who hates Wharton and who gives free rein to his malice when undertaking his duties as a Prefect. Has prefect duties taken away in Magnet #196 (1911) where Head finds out about Loder's bad ways.
- North, Tom - an easy going prefect who is widely liked for his good nature.
- Reynolds, Robert Malcolm - a good fellow but not inclined to push himself forward.
- Tremaine, Charles - a prefect and one of the tallest seniors in the Sixth form. Both he and his friend Faulkner hail from the West of England.
- Walker, James - a prefect who associates with Loder and Carne. Has been known to display a better side to his nature when not under the influence of the other two.
- Yates, George Frederick - a staunch and popular senior.
- Bland, Bertram (Study No 1) - Blundell's closest friend since their time in the Third form. A good sportsman.
- Blundell, George (Study No 1) - Captain of the Fifth. An energetic fellow with sound principles. A fine sportsman who is usually picked for the senior football and cricket XIs.
- Coker, Horace James (Study No 4)– Clumsy, buffoonish, wealthy. Introduced in Magnet #143 The Head of Study 14 (5 Nov, 1910), when still in the Shell form; he was elevated to the Fifth form in Magnet #145 Coker's Catch (19 Nov, 1910). Extremely stupid, hot-headed, aggressive and overbearing; notorious for his 'short way with fags'; but when he visits the Remove passage hunting trouble, the 'fags' demonstrate a 'short way with Coker.' He is the worst speller in the School ("How many K's in 'exasperating'?" asked Horace Coker) and has a style of playing soccer and cricket that is a menace to his own team mates; yet is completely convinced that he is the best scholar and sportsman at Greyfriars. Was only promoted from the Shell after his formidable Aunt Judy pressured Dr Locke into doing so. Aunt Judy keeps Coker well in funds and hampers, and seems oblivious to his many faults. A good hearted character, dim but decent, and brave to the point of stupidity. Coker has on at least one occasion requested Dr Locke to make him a prefect, a request that was politely declined.
- Fitzgerald, Terence (Study No 2) - a good humoured fellow. Like many of the Fifth, likes to poke fun at Coker.
- Greene, William Frederick (Study No 4)– sidekick of Coker, only interested in the food and gifts bestowed by Horace Coker. Greene is something of a poet and, according to the Cassell novel, Billy Bunter's Treasure Hunt knows something about numismatics.
- Hilton, Cedric (Study No 6) - a wealthy and elegant member of the Fifth. Lives with his family at Hilton Hall in Devon. Shares a study with Price, a shady character who often leads him into bad habits.
- Potter, George (Study No 4)– sidekick of Coker, only interested in the food and gifts bestowed by Horace Coker. "Coker stood the tea, so Potter and Green stood Coker." A useful member of the senior football and cricket teams. Often to be found refereeing junior football games.
- Price, Stephen (Study No 6)– A weak character who dislikes sports and associates with the racing fraternity at the local inns. Was once friendly with Bulstrode of the Fourth but this ended when Price moved up to the Fifth.
- Smith, Edward William (Major) (Study No 2)
- Tomlinson, Thomas Trotter (Major) (Study No 3)
- Wavery, Frank (Study No 3)
Shell (Upper Fourth)
- Carr, Albert
- Chowne, Cholmondeley
- Churchill, Luke
- Hobson, James - Captain of the Form.
- Hoskins, Claude - According to his own estimation, the musical genius of Greyfriars.
- Jackson, Philbert
- Lange, Arnold Lawrence
- Miles, Samuel
- Angel, Aubrey - a dandy, and the 'bad hat' of the Fourth. Owns a powerful motorcycle.
- Dabney, William Walter - one of Temple's two close associates. Possesses more common sense than his chief, though lacks the initiative to restrain Temple as aften as he might. Has limited conversation: tends to respond "Oh, rather!" to every remark addressed to him.
- Doone, Percy (Minor) - younger brother of Doone of the Sixth.
- Fitzgerald, Patrick - younger cousin of Fitzgerald of the Fifth.
- Fry, Edward - with Dabney, one of Temple's two close associates. Inclined to be a dandy but is a stronger character than either of the other two.
- Kennedy, Paul
- MacDougall, Ronald
- Murphy, Shamus
- Phipps, Charles
- Scott, James Kenneth
- Temple, Cecil Reginald – Form Captain. An effete dandy. Continually deludes himself that the Fourth's prowess at Soccer compares to that of the Remove, despite the Fourth being almost invariably defeated by the younger Form. Despite his dandified ways, he is nonetheless a handy fighting man if it comes to a punch-up.
- Tomlinson, Teddy Edwin (Minor)
- Turner, Maurice
Remove (Lower Fourth)
The Remove is the home of the main protagonists in the stories, including the Famous Five, Billy Bunter, and Herbert Vernon-Smith. It was the Famous Four originally but Hurree Singh was away most of the year and beyond at the 1911 Delhi Burbar in India for a long time and Johnny Bull joined the group as the new fourth member. Singh had been back from India for quite a time and playing no real part in the stories when Bob Cherry proposed that he should again join their group and it should be called the Famous Five (Magnet #250, Nov 23, 1912). The idea was accepted by all five. It is frequently described in the stories as a "numerous" form, and with good reason: over the 53-year period of publication, it is estimated that more than 80 schoolboys passed through the form. Most of these arrived as a central character in a particular storyline, and disappeared shortly afterwards, having either been expelled or simply not mentioned again. There was about forty boys at any one time.
The following list of members of the Remove is that published in The Magnet #1,659. Of the 39 characters in the list, it is noteworthy that it took the author 559 weeks to assemble 38 of them.
- Bolsover, Percy (Major) (Study No 10) - big, burly junior and not so much a bully as a brutal thug when he first arrived. Introduced in Magnet #182 The Cock of the Walk (1911), he is a year older and much bigger and stronger (he weight trains) than the other Remover boys but his lack of learning has kept him in a lower year. His bullying tendencies were later largely curbed.
- Brown, Tom (Study No 2) - a New Zealand junior from Taranaki in the North Island. Introduced in Magnet #86 The Chum from New Zealand (1909). Interested in music and latterly the owner of a wireless (radio) set, which was much in demand among Removites for its news bulletins as World War II approached. A keen sportsman who celebrated his arrival at Greyfriars by kicking a football all the way from Friardale to the school.
- Bull, Johnny (Study No 14) – Introduced in Magnet #151 The Girls’ School Challenge (1910). Yorkshire bred, hence stubborn, stolid and tactless (Johnny himself calls it 'plain speaking'). Fond of saying: I told you so. The character was originally called John Bull Jr, after the old nickname for England; and stood for a certain type of patriotic, but bull-headed, Englishman. Though he originally appeared to be plump, he was as strong as a bull. Whoever invented the phrase; 'a Bull in a china shop' had Johnny in mind. The final member of the Famous Five to arrive, and probably the least well liked member of that company.
- Bulstrode, George (Study No 2) - The original Captain of the Remove, before Wharton. Introduced in Magnet #1 (1908). Tall and strong for his age and certainly no coward, he was originally an unpleasant bully who could not forgive Wharton for taking his place as Captain. His character changed after the death of his younger brother Herbert (Magnet #178 - 1911). Rarely mentioned after 1930.
- Bunter, William George (Billy Bunter) (Study No 7) - the fattest and funniest member of the Remove. Introduced in Magnet #1 - 1908, as a minor character, but was developed into one of the principal characters of the stories as his comic potential was realised. Foolish, greedy, deceitful, comically conceited, but apart from a tendency to gossip, essentially harmless. His big round spectacles and rolling gait have earned him the nickname the "'Owl of the Remove'". Receives numerous bumpings and kickings from his habit of helping himself to other people's food and is constantly attempting to borrow money on the strength of a long-delayed postal order from his imaginary rich relatives. According to Magnet #585 (1919), Bunter wants to be a stockbroker like his father when he grows up. He has two gifts: for cooking, and ventriloquism, which he often uses to make mischief, or, opportunistically, to get himself out of trouble. A terrible liar, because his obtuseness invariably leads to him giving himself away. Among his few virtues are an occasional tendency to display courage for the sake of others, invariably while being terrified himself; a genuine love and concern for his mother (Magnet #1206); and, oddly enough, generosity, on the rare occasions when he is in possession of food or cash. Boasts of living at the grand stately home, Bunter Court, with its numerous servants and Rolls Royces; but on closer inspection this turns out to be the more modest Bunter Villa at Reigate in Surrey. Has a younger brother, Sammy, in the Second Form.
- Cherry, Robert (Study No 13) – Cheerful, energetic and robust: in person, ruddy-cheeked and flaxen haired. Introduced in Magnet #2 (1908). Extremely noisy and exuberant, his cheery greeting "Hallo, hallo, hallo!" has become part of everyday Remove life. Said to possess the largest feet in the Remove. Bob is a particular admirer of Marjorie Hazeldene, of Cliff House School, and sister of Peter Hazeldene of the Remove. Lives with his father Major Cherry, a retired Army officer, at Cherry Place, the family home in Dorset. A member of the Famous Five.
- Delarey, Piet (Study No 12) - the South African junior. Introduced in Magnet #432 The Boy from South Africa. This story was written by a Magnet substitute writer - John Nix Pentelow - and unusually, the character of Delarey is subsequently retained by Hamilton, though never in a prominent role.
- Desmond, Michael (Mickey) (Study No 6) - Irish junior. Introduced in Magnet #15 Wharton's Operatic Company (1908). Good natured and friendly with the Welsh junior David Morgan, with whom he shares a study.
- Dupont, Napoleon (Study No 10) - French junior who shares a study with Bolsover. After many early arguments, the two have settled down and Bolsover is now very protective of his French chum.
- Dutton, Tom (Study No 7) – He called himself Willy Dutton when he arrived in Magnet #128 (July 23, 1910) and Frank Dutton in #249 (1912). He has severely impaired hearing, and consequently misunderstands everything (to the point that he would not be able to function in a class room. He cannot lip read). Usually misinterprets questions, to the frustration of those conversing with him: Is he in the study? No, he didn't seem muddy. A good boxer and skater, both roller and ice, and would be a good sportsman but for his poor hearing. Shares a study with Bunter and Peter Todd. According to Magnet #569 (1919), Dutton wants to be an engineer.
- Field, Sampson Quincy Iffley (Study No 14) - Australian junior from New South Wales. Introduced in Magnet #343 A Cool Card. Known to all as "Squiff" - a nickname bestowed on him by Bob Cherry who saw the initials S.Q.I.F. on the new junior's luggage. A fine sportsman - the first choice goalkeeper in the Remove Soccer team and, along with Hurree Singh, one of the main bowlers in the cricket team.
- Fish, Fisher Tarleton (Study No 14) – An avaricious American junior. Introduced in Magnet #150 The Yankee Schoolboy (1910). Fishy is a rampant capitalist, who makes the most of his limited opportunities for free enterprise at Greyfriars, often with moneymaking schemes that come unstuck (starting #207 onwards). Later, his world revolved around money and the acquisition of the same. Makes use of very strange idiomatic 'Americanisms', such as 'wake snakes and walk chalks', and 'what the Abraham Lincoln?' Often in trouble because of his money-lending business, and not averse to letting punishment for his sins fall on others (the Cassell novel Bunter Out of Bounds and the Popper Island Rebellion series (Magnets #1374 to #1382 - 1934) are two such examples). Middle name is Tackleton in #207.
- Hazeldene, Peter (Study No 2) - nicknamed 'Hazel' and (originally) 'Vaseline'. He tries to behave, but is easily led, and has been of great trouble to his sister Marjorie at times. The better elements in the Remove often help Hazel out of his scrapes for her sake. A very weak character, easily led, he occasionally mistakes stubbornness for the strength he so palpably lacks.
- Hillary, Richard (Study No 5) - introduced in Magnet #559 A Case of Conscience (1918) in a two part storyline that examines the issue of conscientious objectors in the First World War. Hillary not only opposed the war but was allowed to advance calm and reasoned arguments for the anti war case. Eventually he changed his views (which probably allowed the story into publication but not before allowing himself to be punched by Bunter and tormented by Skinner and Bolsover.
- Kipps, Oliver (Study No 5) - A talented conjurer. Introduced in Magnet #268 The Schoolboy Conjurer (1913).
- Linley, Mark (Study No 13) – A worthy scholarship boy, and star pupil. Introduced in Magnet #45 A lad from Lancashire (1908). Former factory hand from Lancashire, and often suffered for this in the early stories from the few snobbish members of the Remove, notably Bulstrode and Bunter. Quiet natured, but a handy sportsman, and the only pupil in the Remove with a genuine interest in learning Greek. He played a big part in early stories. According to Magnet #585 (1919) Linley is ranked second in class work in the Remove.
- Mauleverer, Herbert (The Earl of Mauleverer) (Study No 12)– Known as 'Mauly', he is a languid, kindly aristocrat. Introduced in Magnet #184 The Schoolboy Millionaire (1911). His sleepy demeanour can be misleading - he has an astute mind, considerable leadership qualities and is a talented boxer who is a match for anyone in the form. However he displays these qualities very rarely, and only on behalf of others. His keen judge of human character and simple faith in human nature have led him more than once to show loyalty to friends in adverse circumstances. Extremely wealthy, but generous, and a very soft touch for the manipulative, loan-seeking Bunter; not because he is dense, but because fending off Bunter's incessant loan requests is simply too much trouble. He lives with his guardian and uncle, Sir Reginald Brooke, at the family home of Mauleverer Towers in Hampshire. On his first appearance, he is described as having a 'somewhat high-pitched, but not unpleasant voice', and as 'somewhat slim and handsome'. He has 'pale blue eyes and light eyelashes, which [give] him a particularly languid and bored to death expression'. With no parents, he has an income of half a million pounds a year (managed by uncle Harry Braithwaite) due to coal being found on the family land (they were already quite rich with £60,000 a year income), Magnet #184.
- Morgan, David (Study No 6)– Welsh junior from Caernervon.
- Newland, Montague (Study No 9) - Jewish junior from Hove in Sussex. Introduced in Magnet #216 The Schoolboy Outcast (1912)
- Nugent, Frank (Major) (Study No 1) – Self-effacing, loyal to his closest friend Wharton. Over-devoted to his troublesome brother Richard, in the Second Form (see below). According to Magnet #150 The Haunted Island (1910), Nugent plays the violin. One of six members of the Remove who were already at Greyfriars in the first story and remained to the last - the others being Bunter, Bulstrode, Hazeldene, Skinner and Russell. Nugent is a member of the Famous Four, then the Famous Five when Bull joined. Originally strong, he started becoming wimpy with Magnet #107.
- Ogilvy, Donald Robert (Study No 3) - Scottish junior from the mountains of Inverness. Introduced in Magnet #43 The Greyfriars Victory (1908). Not a first rate scholar, though plods along steadily. A good sportsman, especially at Soccer, which suits him better than cricket, and a talented boxer. Took part in nasty tricks against Alonzo Todd in the early days.
- Penfold, Richard (Study No 9) –Scholarship boy and the son of a Friardale cobbler. Introduced in Magnet #194 By Sheer Grit (1911). One of three Remove juniors from a working-class background (the others being Linley and Redwing), all of whom are portrayed as being of exemplary character. Penfold is a keen writer of verse, much of which was featured in the Magnet in a regular feature column titled The Greyfriars Rhymester.
- Rake, Richard (Study No 6) – introduced in Magnet #258 Rake of the Remove (1913).
- Redwing, Tom (Study No 4) – A scholarship boy, loyal friend of Vernon-Smith. Son of a sailorman, and lives in the nearby village of Hawkscliff. Introduced in Magnet #518 (1918) Clavering of the Remove. His friendship with Vernon-Smith is frequently tested by the Bounder's impulsiveness, quick temper, and sheer blackguardism. He comes into a fortune derived from an uncle who engaged in slave trading and piracy.
- Russell, Richard (Study No 3)
- Singh, Hurree Jamset Ram (Study No 13) – Indian Prince. Introduced in Magnet #6 (1908). Nabob of the fictional state of Bhanipur, where he was taught a peculiarly idiomatic version of English and thought most things were "terrific". Nicknamed 'Inky'. A fine cricketer (the best bowler in the Remove), with a sharp mind and an extremely perceptive judge of human nature. A skilled exponent of chess. A member of the Famous Five. He had a long break from the series going to the Delhi Durbar in early 1911 and it was wondered whether he would return as Johnny Bull became the fourth member of the Famous Four at the end of the year. After most of a year away, he returned in Magnet #211 (Feb 24, 1912).
- Skinner, Harold (Study No 11) – Cowardly and unwholesome. Smokes and gambles. Malicious personality, and the perpetrator of cruelly accurate cartoons. Nasty practical joker who even friend Bulstrode thought of as having no feelings (Magnet #152). Was once expelled from Greyfriars (Magnet #196, 1911, where it was said: "Skinner left Greyfriars the next morning, and the old school knew him no more"). However, Skinner did get back, in Magnet #274 (May 10, 1913) using deceit and a faked accident. Skinner is rarely, if ever, ashamed of himself. According to Magnet #184 (19 August 1911), Skinner seldom blushed, though he had plenty to blush for if he had troubled to call it to mind.
- Smith (Minor), Robert (Study No 8) – Introduced in Magnet #32 The Greyfriars Ventriloquist (1908). Strangely there seems to be no Smith Major at the school.
- Snoop, Sidney (Study No 11) - Unsavoury associate of Skinner. Introduced in Magnet #45 A Lad from Lancashire (1908). A snob, a sneak and a coward, with very few redeeming features. His craven nature is probably all that prevents him from being a bully. The least likeable Removite. Son of Josiah Snoop, convicted embezzler. Snoop briefly reformed under the guidance of Wally Bunter, Billy Bunter's identical cousin, when Wally took Billy's place in a celebrated 1919 series in The Magnet, but the reformation was brief.
- Stott, William (sometimes Frederick) (Study No 11) - associate of Skinner. Introduced in Magnet #35 Harry Wharton's Scheme(1908). Very occasionally shows a little moral strength and independence. According to the novel Bunter Does His Best!, Stott might have been a useful fellow at Soccer had he consorted less with Skinner.
- Todd, Alonzo Theophilus (Study No 7) – Introduced in Magnet #125 The Duffer of Greyfriars.(1910). Cousin of Peter Todd, with whom he shares a close physical resemblance. He is the ultimate in gullibility as well as being slow witted, believing anything he is told, which leaves him open to various jokes played on him, some with disastrous results. He is fond of quoting his Uncle Benjamin who told him to always be helpful. He left Greyfriars after being seriously hurt by Bulstrode (Magnet #169. May 6, 1911). He returned in Magnet #201 and left in #210 (without any fanfare) after the Headmaster decided he was far too gullible to be at the school any more.
- Todd, Peter (Study No 7) – A tall, thin, budding lawyer who is the son of a Clerkenwell solicitor. Introduced in Magnet #205 The Duffer's Double (1912) where he takes Alonzo's place for a few days before leaving. He is shown to be a first rate boxer, later forgotten. Shares a study with Bunter. Devotes much of his time to improving Bunter: a futile, fruitless and frustrating occupation. Toddy is most in his element when there is a Form trial, such as in the novel Billy Bunter the Bold, where the Form puts Bunter on trial for over-indulging his tuck raiding.
- Treluce, Anthony (Study No 9) A Cornish boy.
- Trevor, Herbert (Study No 9)
- Vernon-Smith, Herbert Tudor Vernon (Study No 4) – Introduced in Magnet #119 (1910), arriving at Greyfriars in an intoxicated state and then he starts smoking cheroots. Known as "The Bounder". Son of a nouveau riche millionaire father in the Cotton industry and a loan shark (said to be worth £3 million is issue #181), who allows him free rein and gives him too much pocket money. Charismatic, reckless and rebellious, a gambler and a smoker, Smithy is sometimes malicious which leads to him being described as better to have him as an enemy rather than a friend (Magnet #234), but occasionally he can be honourable. Much improved since the arrival at Greyfriars of his great friend Tom Redwing in 1918. His well developed streak of blackguardism, which he indulges rather than trying to control, often overwhelms his better qualities. After a bad start, surprisingly adept in class when he chooses to be. He was a natural at football (and cricket) from the first time he played in Magnet #135. Vernon-Smith is said to be third in ranking among the Remove pupils (Magnet #585, 1919). He came within a hair's width of being permanently expelled in issue #181. Magnets # 250-254, where he manages to get four boys sacked (Nugent, Bull, Wharton, then Cherry) and ruin Linley's chance at school suggests he is not bad but evil. He was totally unrepentant when caught.
- Vivian, Sir James (Jimmy) (Study No 12) - Schoolboy Baronet and Mauleverer's cousin. Introduced in Magnet #471 Sir Jimmy at Greyfriars (1917). Speaks like a tramp but acts like a nobleman.
- Wharton, Harry (Study No 1)– Form Captain. Introduced in Magnet #1 (1908) The Making of Harry Wharton.. Strong willed, stubborn almost to the point of arrogance, a natural leader. Is quick to take offence, particularly if his word is doubted. Takes his duty as form captain very seriously, and this occasionally makes him unpopular when he exerts his authority. An orphan, who has long been under the care of his uncle, Colonel James Wharton, a Governor of the school. According to Magnet #585 (1919) Wharton is the best student in the Remove. He is also the leader of, and a founding member of, the Famous Five, who were originally, until the arrival of Bull, known as the Famous Four: namely Wharton, Cherry, Nugent, Bull, and Hurree Singh. But they are generally known to their schoolfellows as 'Harry Wharton & Company' or simply 'Harry Wharton & Co'.
- Wibley, William Ernest (Study No 6) - a talented actor and impersonator, which frequently leads him into trouble. Introduced in Magnet #322 (1914) “Wibley’s Wheeze”. Founder, president and lead actor of the Remove Dramatic Society.
- Wun Lung (Study No 13) – Chinese junior. Introduced in Magnet #36 The New Boy at Greyfriars (1908). Has a long pigtail and speaks a very peculiar idiomatic version of English and says "no savvy" when he does not want to understand something. Famous for his vile cooking: for example in the Greyfriars Holiday Annual 1931 he cooked a stew of rats and mice and fed it to the unnamed feature interviewer. He has a younger brother, Hop Hi in the Second form.
- Bolsover, Hubert (Minor)
- Bolter, Oliver
- Conrad, Leonard
- Lunn, Harold
- Paget, Percival Spencer
- Simpson, John
- Tubb, George - Form Captain (Horace Tubb in #206)
- Wingate, Jack (Minor)
- Bunter, Sammy (Minor)– younger brother of Billy Bunter. Introduced in Magnet #144 Billy Bunter's Minor (1910). Sammy shares many of his elder brother's characteristics, including his waistline. Lives with his family at Bunter Villa, Reigate, Surrey.
- Castle, Thomas
- Gatty, George
- Hop Hi - Chinese junior. Younger brother of Wun Lun of the Remove.
- Marsden, Eric
- Myers, Edwin - friend of Gatty
- Nugent, Richard – troublesome and impertinent younger brother of Frank Nugent of the Remove. Introduced in Magnet #100 Nugent Minor (1910). Known as Dicky Nugent.
- Pettifer, James
- Smith, Harry
- Spring, Conrad Arthur
- Sylvester, Roderick
- Tatton, Rowland
- Todd, Ernest
There are few mentions of a First form at Greyfriars and none at all after the early era of the Magnet.
- Sir Hilton Popper – He later became Chairman of the Board of Governors. A crusty and insensitive local landowner. He lays claim to owning "Poppers' Island" on the Sark, and had it placed Out of Bounds, much to the chagrin of Greyfriars fellows who liked to picnic upon it. He was first mentioned in Magnet #183 (August 12, 1911) and first in a story in Magnet #186 where he is portrayed as a sadist.
- Hon Cecil Ponsonby - A Highcliffe pupil. Scheming, vicious, snob; perhaps the only character in the Greyfriars universe totally without moral scruple.
- Marjorie Hazeldene - Cliff House pupil. An angelic schoolgirl, sister of Peter Hazeldene of the Remove. The sometime sweetheart of Bob Cherry of the Remove, and the main reason why Bob often has to restrain himself from punching her brother's silly head. She has a close friend named Clara Trevlyn, notable for her tomboy manner.
- Police Constable Horatio Tozer, "the representative for law and order in Friardale" village. A fat man who likes drinking, he has the same view of school children as Gosling does. First appearance in Magnet #130 (Aug 6, 1910).
In other fiction
Greyfriars, and some of its (by then) former pupils, appeared in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier.
- Lofts & Audley, P.41
- Greyfriars, The Magnet & Billy Bunter
- Richards, Frank (8 July 1933). "Bunter's £100 Boater". Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- Sutton, P.107
- Sutton, P.105-107
- Fayne & Jenkins, P.235-236
- Sutton, P.229, P.244
- Hamilton Wright, P.162-164
- Sutton, P.214, P.229, P.239, P.163
- Hamilton Wright, P.164-167
- Hamilton Wright, P.167
- Fayne & Jenkins P.215-216
- Richards, Frank (8 December 1928). "The Form-Masters Feud!". Retrieved 5 August 2013.
- Lofts & Audley, P.49
- Lofts & Audley, P.50
- Greyfriars for Grown-Ups, Lawrence Sutton, ISBN 0 7030 0188 4
- Beal, George (Editor) (1977), The Magnet Companion, London: Howard Baker.
- Cadogan, Mary (1988), Frank Richards - The Chap Behind The Chums, Middlesex: Viking.
- Fayne, Eric; Jenkins, Roger (1972), A History of The Magnet and The Gem, Kent: Museum Press.
- Hamilton Wright, Una; McCall, Peter (2006), The Far Side of Billy Bunter: the Biography of Charles Hamilton, London: Friars Library.
- Lofts, W.O.; Adley, D.J. (1975), The World of Frank Richards, London: Howard Baker.
- McCall, Peter (1982), The Greyfriars Guide, London: Howard Baker.
- Orwell, George (1940), "Boys Weeklies", Horizon.
- Richards, Frank (1940), "Frank Richards Replies to Orwell]" (PDF), Horizon.
- Richards, Frank (1962), The Autobiography of Frank Richards, London: Skilton.
- Richards, Jeffery (1991), Happiest Days: Public Schools in English Fiction, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
- Sutton, Lawrence. (1980), Greyfriars for Grown-ups, London: Howard Baker.
- Turner, E.S. (1975), Boys will be Boys – 3rd edition, London: Penguin.
- Friardale Hamilton material
- Collecting Books and Magazines Detailed article
- Greyfriars, The Magnet & Billy Bunter Facts and Figures
- Greyfriars Index Detailed listing of Hamilton material
- The Friars Club Enthusiasts’ Club
- Friardale Detailed site about The Magnet
- Bunterzone Enthusiasts’ site
- Index of Boys Weeklies
- Map of Greyfriars School
- Map of Location of Greyfriars School