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 is a subversion. She's pretty, vain, spoilt, lazy and often pretends to take timid girls like Mary-Lou or Clarissa "under her wing" while trying to manipulate them to do her bidding. However, most of the girls are so disgusted by her personality that she rarely gets her way.
    • Alicia is an unusually positive version. She's one of the most popular girls in her form and Darrell was very eager to be her friend during her first year in Malory Towers. She's also sarcastic and condescending towards people who are not as brilliant as herself, but she's never truly malicious, and many of the girls admire her wit and honesty.
    • Daphne initially comes off as another Gwendoline. She is beautiful, rich, and boastful, but manages to use her charms to have Mary-Lou and Mam'zelle Dupont wrapped around her finger. She gets much better at the end of book 2, where she saves Mary-Lou's life and becomes her best friend.
  • 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 and 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.
  • Becoming the Mask: At first, Daphne only befriends Mary-Lou to get the latter's help with her French homeworks. However, she eventually gets to like Mary-Lou for real.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Darrell is a Nice Girl 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 feels extremely protective towards Felicity when the latter first arrives at the school in Upper Fourth at Malory Towers, and warns her not to be too friendly with Alicia's cousin June, whom Darrell considers a bad influence. 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:
    • Gwendoline is the most notable example. She almost consistently keeps her position as the bottom of her class, her teachers remark on her terrible work, and the only reason she is allowed to move on to the fifth form despite failing her exams is that she's far too old to be kept in the fourth form.
    • Zerelda Brass in the third book. She is one year older than the protagonists, but since she couldn't keep up with the work of the fourth formers, she was sent down to the third.
    • Connie, who needs her twin's help to get good grades. In the fifth novel, she is held back for a year for failing her Certs, while Ruth moves on to the fifth form with the others.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Alicia is very smart, has good memory, and can easily achieve one of the top ranks in her form without studying much. Darrell initially tries to imitate her, but finds that, despite being a bright girl, she cannot afford to slack off, or her grades will slip badly.
  • British Accents: Including Jean's Scottish accent.
  • 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.
  • 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's 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 both are held back a year, 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" are mistaken for "yowling" by Bridget and Connie.
  • Dumb Blonde: Both Gwendoline Mary Lacey and her near-double, Maureen, have distinctive blonde hair and both do 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 is very good-natured very popular because of it, while Mamzelle Rougier is very strict, Lean and Mean, and is not very well-liked.
  • Fatal Flaw: Jealousy for Sally. In the first book, she behaves unpleasantly because she is jealous of her younger sister, who she believes to be stealing their parents' attention. In the third book, she is jealous of Alicia for being over-friendly with Darell (because Alicia's best friend, Betty, is away) and treats them both coldly until Betty finally returns to school.
  • 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, as the story is set in an all-girl school, and most of them go about in pairs. Darrell is best friends with Sally, Alicia almost always hangs out with Betty, Irene and Belinda are a pair of artistically talented scatterbrains, Bill and Clarissa gets along very well due to their love for horses, etc.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Amanda, who is about 6 feet tall and weighs about 13 stones.
  • 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.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Daphne enjoys boasting about her family's riches to hide the fact that she is actually a thief, and had been expelled six times before coming to Malory Towers for stealing money and jewellery that she otherwise couldn't afford to buy, since her family is poor.
  • Irritation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
  • 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 trying to teach his daughter to be 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.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Almost all of the girls go about in pairs - Betty and Alicia, Darrell and Sally, Mary-Lou and Daphne, Bill and Clarissa (who double up as Tomboy and Girly Girl). And if another girl joins the group, it is called "Threesomes", as was with Felicity, Susan and June. This was quite common in the fifties.
  • Rule of Pool: Students reluctant to swim are frequently pushed in, especially Gwendoline, who is just lazy and cowardly.
  • Scholarship Student: Ellen comes from a lower-middle class family, and it was repeatedly mentioned that the only reason she could afford to go to Malory Towers is because she won a scholarship (and even then, the cost of the uniform and school supplies still takes a toll on her family's finances).
  • 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: 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.
  • Stepford Smiler: Zerelda always appears happy and carefree, even when she is having problems at school (i.e. when she is forced to go down one grade because she is 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, the ability to lose yourself in the character, 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.