main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Literature: Malory Towers
The old book covers compared to the new ones.
Malory Towers is a series of six novels by British children's author Enid Blyton, featuring the fictional Cornish seaside boarding school of the same name. Though the originals were written from 1946 to 1951, the series Outlived Its Creator - in 2009 six more books were added to the series by author Pamela Cox, who has also made additions to Blyton's series St Clare's.

The series follows the heroine, Darrell Rivers, from her first year at Malory Towers to when she leaves. Other characters include Sally Hope, Darrell's level-headed best friend; Felicity Rivers, Darrell's younger sister; Gwendoline Mary Lacey, the form's spoilt martyr; Alicia Johns, who is sharp tongued, competitive and intelligent; Mary-Lou, small and timid, but very kind hearted; Irene, scatterbrained music and maths genius; Belinda, scatterbrained artistic genius; Jean, shrewd and straightforward, and Wilhelmina (Bill), completely horse-mad.

The characters are very similar to those in the St Clare's series.

The series is believed to be semi-autobiographical, and the name "Darrell Rivers" is clearly drawn from Blyton's second husband's name, Kenneth Darrell Waters. It is also widely supposed that Blyton based the creation on the famous Scottish boarding school St Leonards School in St Andrews, which is, of course, the heroine’s University destination.

A lot of information on the series can be found here.

Contains examples of:

  • All's Well That Ends Well: The end of every book, pretty much.
  • Alpha Bitch: Gwendoline, sometimes. Alicia has her moments, and her cousin June is even worse.
  • Always Identical Twins: Averted - Connie and Ruth are technically identical twins, but their development has left them different, with Connie being straight-haired, larger, stronger and plumper than her sister, whereas Ruth is smaller and skinnier with wavy hair.
  • Anachronism Stew: One infamous book cover of Upper Fourth at Malory Towers shows the girls in modern day t-shirts, drinking lemonade out of a plastic bottle.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Bridget to Moira. June is an annoying younger cousin to Alicia. Averted with Darrell's younger sister Felicity.
  • Apron Matron: Their school's matron is plump, strict, but fair and motherly.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: God, Darrell. She slaps Gwen and shoves Sally in the first book, has a big fight with Ellen in the second and shakes June in the fourth.
  • Beautiful All Along: Clarissa, once she takes off her glasses and gets her braces removed is revealed to be strikingly beautiful instead of just "plain" as she was considered before.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Darrell is a Nice Girl the most of the time, but she has a really nasty temper and no problems with using physical violence when she gets mad.
    • Alicia has a very sharp tongue, and reacts to any imagined or real slight by using it liberally. One of the worst examples was when she started nursing a grudge against Sally because Sally was made Head Girl, but Alicia wasn't even considered as an option. Keep in mind here that Sally had no idea that this was happening and no control over who was selected.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Darrell towards Felicity in Upper Fourth at Malory Towers. Inverted when June gets Darrell sacked from her position as Head Girl and gloats about it to Felicity. Little sister is NOT amused.
  • Blatant Lies: All of Gwen's boasting is seen as this by all other characters, except her mother, her governess and whichever gullible new kid is following her around this term.
  • Boarding School: The titular school.
  • Book Dumb: Connie, who needs her twin's help to get good grades. Eventually, Ruth gets fed up with her.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Alicia, and Belinda at first. Darrell starts off as this until she's bluntly informed by her form teacher that while she's by no means unintelligent, she simply can't afford to slack off because her marks won't stand it. Darrell takes it to heart, thankfully.
  • British Accents: Including Jean's Scottish accent.
  • British Weather
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Mavis suffers from this in the third book and she loses her voice for a while.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Not Catholic, no, but near-constantly uniformed since they live at the school.
  • Character Development: Almost every girl in the school learns a valuable lesson at some point and begins to change.
  • Character Focus: Generally, the first few chapters have quite a bit of this for each new girl to allow the reader to get to know them all.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Gwendoline tries to skip an exam by faking a heart disease. She is exposed and forced to take the exam anyway. Played with Ellen: A scholarship girl, she knows that she's a pretty average student and thus must work as hard as she can to keep up. Unfortunately, all the stress takes its toll on her and she resolves to cheat because she can't see another way to keep up. The ensuing events make her state of health become even worse until she becomes extremely ill. However, once the truth comes out, Ms Grayling has no problems with forgiving her.
  • Clear Their Name: Happens several times, e.g. when Ellen is wrongly accused of stealing in Second Form at Malory Towers.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: In this first few books, this is Sally's flaw.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Irene and Belinda are both scatterbrains, frequently turning up in the wrong classroom, losing their stuffs, forgetting their class duties... the list go on.
  • Coming of Age Story: Speaking about the whole series, yes.
  • Corporal Punishment: Edited out in more recent versions. Alicia reminding her annoying cousin of how she was "spanked with a hairbrush" over the summer is changed to her reminding June of how she was "scolded".
  • Costume Porn: Some of the outfits made for the school play are stated to count as a combination of this and Gorgeous Period Dress, as made by a talented schoolgirl seamstress who was aided by legions of lower-formers.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Alicia is very infamous for her sharp tongue and her readiness to offer some biting remarks at those she considers stupid.
  • Divide and Conquer: When rivalries over who is whose best friend get to a head.
  • Don't Split Us Up: The twins Connie and Ruth, at least at first. Connie's marks are much worse than Ruth and she knows that she might have to be kept back a year, so she forces Ruth to purposely do badly in her tests so that they would be held back a year together, and Ruth agrees. Things eventually work out, however, and Ruth discovers she actually likes not always being in Connie's shadow.
  • Dreadful Musician: Maureen, who has a powerful voice, but is quite tone deaf. Her attempts at "singing" was mistaken for "yowling" by Bridget and Connie.
  • Dumb Blonde: Both Gwendoline Mary Lacey, and her near-double, Maureen, have distinctive blonde hair and both does poorly in school.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Quite a sad one actually. Gwendoline's mother is an ignorant airhead who, together with her old governess, spoils Gwendoline completely while her father tries to stop this (which results in much tears and screaming) and is often disappointed by his daughter's actions. In turn, Gwendoline shuns him and acts like a brat as a punishment.
  • Extreme Doormat: Mary-Lou initially, but she got better. Ruth expands from this. Catherine is this on purpose, and dear God does it annoy everyone- as she never really learns, being helpful is one thing, but when nobody wants you to help them, it's best to just back off and try being you instead of a saint.
  • Fat and Skinny: The two French mistresses. Mamzelle Dupont is a Fat Comic Relief who gets the most brunt of jokes from the girls but very popular because of this, while Mamzelle Rougier is very strict, Lean and Mean, and is not very well-liked.
  • Flanderization: Gwendoline starts off as a Spoiled Brat but becomes a Manipulative Bitch.
  • Food Porn: If written descriptions of dinners and midnight feasts count.
  • Funny Foreigner: Their French mistresses. One is generally nice, but tends to overreact to everything. The other is just plain mean.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Sometimes the girls can get rather... possessive over each other.
    Darrell... didn't like to see the faithful Mary-Lou sitting so long with somebody else. Why, Mary-Lou had tagged along behind Darrell and Sally for terms and terms! Surely she wasn't going to make that awful Daphne her friend.
  • Green Eyes: Clarissa, and its status as a rare colour is portrayed quite realistically.
  • Guilt by Coincidence: Ellen. Things are going missing, and because nobody really likes Ellen, they decide that she is the scapegoat. In reality, Ellen is overworking herself to the detriment of her health as she tries to get good marks, and her only real crime was trying to cheat on the tests because her marks were failing. The real thief was Daphne, who, to be fair, was absolutely horrified when she realised that Ellen was going to be unfairly blamed for her crimes.
  • Heterosexual Life Partner: Almost everyone has one.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Both the Mam'zelles and Darrell before she learns to control it.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Amanda, who is a sports genius.
  • I Am Not My Father: Gwendoline for her mother after she repents and realises how weak she always was.
  • I Have Brothers: Bill, the tomboy of the cast, has seven. Alicia has three and, although she is not that much of a tomboy, blames some of her mischievous tendencies on them.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Alicia. She's fun and popular, but she has absolutely no problem with using her sharp tongue on anyone who annoys her, and she lacks compassion, even refusing to consider that a friend might not have done something wrong.
  • Large Ham: Zerelda, the American Foreign Exchange Student, thinks she's an incredible actress, and ends up going into Large Ham overdrive when given the opportunity to play Juliet for the drama teacher. She gets very harshly disabused of the notion.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Gwendoline, to the point that it's a wonder that the girls never got sick of her and just told Ms Grayling what she's done.
  • New Transfer Student: The school gets a few new ones every year. One notable example was Amanda, after her old school burned down.
  • New Year Same Class: Averted - although the core cast of characters stays the same, some girls go up a form early or stay behind due to bad results.
  • Nuclear Family: Most in the series - this was The Fifties, after all - including the protagonist's.
  • One Gender School: The titular Malory Towers, like most schools that show up in Enid Blyton books, is one of these.
  • Only Sane Man: Gwen's father. His daughter is a Spoiled Brat and his wife- and Gwen's governess- are airheads who think the world of her and spoil her rotten. He alone is the only person who is trying to make his daughter into a decent human being.
  • Playing Sick: Gwendoline tries this in Upper Fourth at Malory Towers, faking a serious heart condition to get out of difficult end-of-term exams.
  • Pool Scene: In Upper Fourth at Malory Towers the girls have a midnight picnic by the pool.
  • School Nurse: The Matron also fills this role.
  • School Play: The girls write and produce their own pantomime in In The Fifth At Malory Towers.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely/The Glasses Gotta Go: Clarissa was initially considered plain-looking, or even ugly, due to her thick spectacles and braces. When she takes them off, she becomes one of the most attractive girls in the cast.
  • Spoiled Brat: Gwendoline, and a huge one at that.
  • Stepford Smiler: Zerelda always appear happy and carefree, even when she was having problems at school (i.e. when she was forced to go down one grade because she was unable to keep up with the fourth form's work standard)
  • Sticky Fingers: Daphne was the one who stole the girls' stuffs from the second book. They forgave her, though.
  • Take My Hand: Twice! Firstly, in Second Form at Malory Towers Mary-Lou falls off a cliff and needs to be rescued like this, and then in Last Term at Malory Towers overconfident swimmer Amanda nearly drowns and we hear this during her rescue.
  • Teacher's Pet: Various. Daphne manages it very successfully by turning on the charm with Mam'zelle Dupont.
  • Teen Genius: Irene at music and maths (if nothing else), Belinda at art and Mavis at singing. x
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Zerelda gets given one by an angry drama teacher who tells her very bluntly that her acting is terrible. After everyone's calmed down, the same drama teacher tells her kindly but firmly that she simply doesn't have the gift that all great actors need, and advises her to give up, which she does.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Bill and Clarissa; although Clarissa's not that girly. She does have long hair and is generally beautiful though.
  • Tomboyish Name: Bill. It's short for Wilhelmina, but almost nobody calls her that. Unusual in that she never faces criticism for her boyish ways or people trying to make her change.
  • Weather Report Narration: Fairly frequent at the start of chapters.
  • Writing Lines: Happens quite often. Occasionally, if the punishment was deemed undeserved by the other girls they help do it together.
  • Younger than They Look: Zeralda Brass is only a year older than the other girls, but she has been mistaken for a grown woman. Justified, since she tries to act older than she is, and it's noted that without her makeup she almost looks like a different person.

The Makioka SistersLiterature of the 1940sMelendy Quartet
MaliceChildren's LiteratureMark Delewen And The Space Pirates

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy