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Tom Brown's Schooldays (Tom Brown Series)

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,663 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
Recounts the adventures of a young English boy at Rugby School in the early nineteenth century.
Paperback, 458 pages
Published November 9th 1989 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1857)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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George
Jun 10, 2008 George rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christian Soldiiers, and Defenders of the True Faith. Knights of the Bath
A must read for any of the legions of Flashman fanatics (like myself) if only for a better understanding of what George MacDonald Fraser was satirizing in his famous, and infamous Flashman, series. Of course, this was aimed at Victorian boys to inspire them to be better Victorian gentlemen and not to jaded, cynical world weary reprobates like myself. So, perhaps I'm not the most appropriate reviewer of this book. No doubt, Tom Brown, Arnold and the author himself would arm wrestle each other to ...more
Deborah Pickstone
A children's classic - but one of those written for all ages, which is how books were written at the time. There was no shame in a child and his/her parent sharing the same favourites. So, a classic, a debut novel (really an only novel) and a singular account of school life in the Victorian era under a very famous headmaster. Not only this but it spawned another classic - or perhaps a modern classic? in Flashman, the character first met here, at Rugby; a bully, a cad, a bounder and general all-r ...more
Jim
Jul 19, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a boy, Tom Brown, and his years at Rugby school during the tenure of Thomas Arnold as headmaster, in the early Victorian era.

Unless you're a hopeless anglophile, you might prefer watching one of the dramatisations of this story. (The made-for-television film with Stephen Fry as Doctor Arnold is especially good.) The films tend to have more plot than the book, which is more a series of chronological anecdotes set amidst statements of philosophy than it is a novel. The philoso
...more
Leonie
I was surprised by the way this book made me feel like a boy-detesting maiden aunt. It wasn't as if I didn't have a pretty good idea of what was in it beforehand, but really, they're unlikable little thugs, the boys in this book. If they're not shooting peas at passers-by and bribing their way out of trouble about it they're throwing stones at other people's livestock and bribing their way out of trouble about it. Hughes' aim is to intercut this pleasant, healthy, natural boyishness with a conce ...more
Surreysmum
[These notes were made in 1984:]. Despite the preachiness and rather offensive Toryism, I rather enjoyed this - really the grand-daddy of school-stories. The shape is so familiar - from new boy through various troubles to responsible upper-school-man, the whole thing ending with a gala of some sort: in this case, a cricket match. Hughes does not attempt to hide the fact that Tom's hero-worship of Dr. Arnold is autobiographical in origin. But I doubt if there was any real-life counterpart of the ...more
Filipa
So this is one of the worst books I've read this year...my entire life, actually. I had high expectations because some of my teachers in college talked about it and I was certainly curious. Turns out that I did like the theme, I think it is reflects perfectly a lot of ideas about education, society and colonial issues in the British culture of the nineteenth century but the author's writing is unbelievable. He mentions in the preface wanting to preach about something he believed in but if you wa ...more
Christine
Aug 07, 2012 Christine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Victorian or children's literature lovers
Shelves: for-classes
I made a lot of connections between this 1857 English novel and Robert Cormier's 1977 novel The Chocolate War. I wrote a 20 page paper comparing the two and how they portray Catholic schools negatively, and are really novels for adults, rather than children.
Ellis L.
Mar 24, 2015 Ellis L. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I must the the only person around who did not pick this up because of the Flashman series. Rather, I noticed it and the first thing that popped into my head was Tomkinson's Schooldays, from Ripping Yarns. So I was reading it for a lark. And because it was free on my Kindle.

To my surprise, I'm rather enjoying the book. I don't really need the insights into Victorian life or background for Flashman; in fact, I'm enjoying the writing itself. The tone is jovial and thoroughly modern (for the 19thc).
...more
Bev
May 13, 2011 Bev rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, victorian
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes is one of the first (if not the first) books about boys and adventures in public school life. First published in 1857, Hughes was looking to write a novel for boys that would tell about the public school life “in a right spirit but distinctly aimed at being interesting.” In it, he introduces us to Tom Brown—first describing his home village and his life there and then following Tom through his years at Rugby under Dr. Arnold. We are given Tom’s experiences ...more
Dave/Maggie Bean
I hate to admit it, but my introduction to young Master Brown was via George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series. Fraser’s anti-hero was based on Hughes’ school bully, Harry Flashman. I hate to admit it even more, but Fraser’s Flashman is such a likeable villain; I actually put off reading Hughes’ novel because of said character’s loathing for Brown.

Having since read it, I can honestly say that I find Brown even more likeable than his nemesis, as he was hardly the “goody two shoes” Fraser’s versi
...more
Paul Foley
Oct 29, 2012 Paul Foley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The point of education is not to learn stuff, but to build character... according to this 19th century classic of a boy's life at an English public (that is, private) school. Character is of course built playing sports, like Rugby football, a sport which in this book resembles a kind of riot with rules, where small boys are pitted against large boys and little or no thought is given to the dangers of concussion, broken limbs, or death. It's a rough and tumble environment, great fun until someone ...more
Edward Butler
(For the full picture, see my review of Alec Waugh's The Loom of Youth.) The shortcomings of Hughes as a novelist are largely compensated by his historical value as a sort of Victorian cosmogonist. He fashions an indelible image of school as a crucible for character formation, but character for Hughes is in no sense a private matter, but thoroughly religious and political. Hence it would be a mistake to treat this text as a Bildungsroman; it answers to completely different purposes. Hughes is qu ...more
Rik
Sep 02, 2013 Rik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, historical
I nearly didn't read this as I found the opening chapter about the Browns rather boring, however being advised to skip this was good counsel. The rest of the book was an enjoyable insight into public school, and from what I have heard from friends, not too much has changed. Sometimes the exact meaning of some passages was lost on me, however this did not detract from the enjoyment as I like to have to get the dictionary out (it means learning a new word!). I loved the frank and open assumption t ...more
Justin
Jul 25, 2011 Justin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I very very rarely put a book down without finishing it. I love Victorian novels, but I could not get into this one. I read about 150 pages and then called it quits. It was too preachy for me. It went into too much detail about how to play various rough games and sports, none of which I am the least bit interested in. I suppose it is a good snapshot of public school life, but there are many other, and better, novels that are capable of accomplishing the same. I did, however, enjoy Hughes' conver ...more
Mac.Hawk
Jan 21, 2016 Mac.Hawk rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thomas-hughes
I set out to read the Flashman books and thought I'd give this a go as I knew the character first appeared here. Had seen TV adaptations of the book many, many (too many) years ago and thought a read would be a good refresher. Well I have to say it's not the easiest book to read. Written over 150 years ago with some prose not in common use today it can take a bit of 'Google-ing' to get the gist of some parts of the narrative. Additionally, there is much of the 1830's public school regime (maybe ...more
Charles Faulkner
I have to admit from the word Go, that trying to get me to sit down and read anything longer than a regular novel is harder than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

With this book, that most certainly was not a problem.

Thomas Hughes' work brings the very real world of Rugby School onto paper and in such detail that you would believe his work true, were you not to know otherwise. Brown's school life would be hell upon itself, were it not for a newly found chum, Harry East - known affectionately as "Scud". The
...more
A.J.
Jan 09, 2011 A.J. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Downloaded this as an ebook from Project Gutenberg.

One of those books which is definitely 'of its time'. It was slow to start - about a fifth of it had gone by before Tom actually got to school - and then ponderous and moralistic as it went on. I can see that the description of the game of Rugby would be very interesting for historians of that sport, but the heavy-handedness of the religious and moral messages in the book made it hard to read for me.
Rebecca
Apr 09, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engl-420
PRE-1920S BOOK CATEGORY
Naturally a book written so long ago is not anything like the style of young adult books written now. In some ways this made it more difficult to read, simply because the language and way of telling the story feel so old and, in some ways, obsolete. However, the basic story of "Tom Brown's Schooldays" is interesting and can be to any reader willing to put in the effort to read it.
Elizabeth
Aug 06, 2010 Elizabeth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hallway
This is among the first (if not the first) novel written for and about English schoolboys. Though not a bad novel, its chief value is probably historical. You can see the ideology of the English public school system (both at its best and through dark hints at its worst). Readers of later works (P. G. Wodehouse's cricketing stories come to mind) will certainly see the legacy of this book.
Sarah Tipper
Jul 10, 2014 Sarah Tipper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I’ve ever read about a boy’s school and I read it because I bought the first of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books (and Flashman is a character in Tom Brown’s Schooldays). There is a scene of tossing (calm down, it’s really not what you think) in which the bully Flashman and his cronies put younger boys in blankets and chuck them ceilingwards. At Rugby School (where the book is set), there are a lot of bullies, and the author Thomas Hughes was trying to help stamp it ...more
Andy Weston
Sep 18, 2007 Andy Weston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
read many times and quoted. Especially the passage about being Cricket Captain, 'only the Doctors job is more important'. Quoted when I announced the cricket captain each year at Lytham in assembly. Used as A level PE info also for the football chapter.
Katie
Mar 02, 2009 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely adore this book even though it chronicles the coming of age of a young boy in Britian. I feel its a book that every young man/boy should read that will give him a sense and understanding of loyalty, brotherhood, character, and fortitude.
Simon
Mar 31, 2015 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read because CLR James reckons this has as much to tell us about how English sport developed as any book. I can see the argument. I also enjoyed the book, despite it representing a set of values I don't over admire, far more than I expected to
UKEXPAT74
Tried reading a copy of this book as a child. It was one of my father's school prizes and there weren't many books in the house shortly after WWII. I found "The Home Doctor" far more interesting even though the vocabulary was probably just as baffling to a seven-year-old as Tom Brown's Schooldays. More than 60 years later I managed to read this classic but didn't like it at all. I found Tom a bit of a prig and his preaching was embarrassing to say the least. But, I did understand most of the voc ...more
Dave
Nov 06, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, fiction
“Tom Brown’s Schooldays” by Thomas Hughes (1822 – 1896) was originally published in 1857, and clearly inspired other school novels for many years to come. One can see the impact it had on Wodehouse’s school stories, as well as “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”, and others as well. Add to that, the use of the character Flashman (the school bully in the first part of the book) by George MacDonald Fraser for his series of stories, and you begin to see just how much influence this book has had over the years. Th ...more
Ian
May 17, 2012 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read all the Flashman novels so I was interested in going back to the original source. Also, having been to an English public school myself I was curious as to how things changed between the 1830s and the 1970s. I also have vague memories of a TV series from the 1970s, many of which appear to have been the product of the series' scriptwriters and not from the original source.

I found the book rather less enjoyable than I hoped, in part because Flashman himself is little more than a bit part.
...more
Eric Thomas
Mar 14, 2012 Eric Thomas rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: engl-420
OLD TIME (PRE-1920) 'JUVENILE' FICTION

This is an incredibly slow story. While many claim it to be the "Grand Pappy" of all boarding school books, I had a hard time catching on. Make no mistake, this isn't any Harry Potter. It's definitely has young adults in mind as it was written to inspire men to bravery and gentlemanly behavior, attempting to get rid of bullying and other practices that would be contrary to those former principles. It's a bit didactic in that regard, which isn't a bad thing,
...more
Lisa
One of the few thorns in my college literature classes! Tom Brown was part of the syllabus of our Victorian literature class not because of its literary value but as a portrait of the Victorian psychology. After all, it was schools like Rugby which shaped the great writers, thinkers, empire builders and political figures
of 19th century England, not the least among the literary figures being Matthew Arnold, the son of Rugby's headmaster Thomas Arnold. Thomas Arnold in Tom Brown figures as a guidi
...more
Shelbi
Feb 11, 2016 Shelbi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must say this book was interesting, to say the least. It took me a while to get into the story of the young boy, Tom Brown, and his adventures at the public school, Rugby. Much of the subject matter confused and intrigued me, because all I really know of British culture, I know from Harry Potter. It was pretty cool to see the stark differences in adolescent, not only in the late 1800s, but the differences in culture. Overall, I am glad to have read the book and think it is much deserved to hav ...more
Karen
Jul 16, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
* 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Family and Self

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time.
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Librarian note: There is more than one author by this name on Goodreads.

Thomas Hughes was an English lawyer and author. He is most famous for his novel Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857), a semi-autobiographical work set at Rugby School, which Hughes had attended. It had a lesser-known sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford (1861).
More about Thomas Hughes...

Other Books in the Series

Tom Brown Series (2 books)
  • Tom Brown at Oxford

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“I want to leave behind me the name of a fellow who never bullied a little boy, or turned his back on a big one.” 10 likes
“He who has conquered his own coward spirit has conquered the whole outward world;” 7 likes
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