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To Serve Them All My Days
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To Serve Them All My Days

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  1,138 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Young David Powlett-Jones, a Welsh miner's son, is invalided home from France when he suffers severe shell shock on the Western Front. At a remote English public school in Devon the debilitated veteran, himself barely out of his teens, decides temporarily to try his hand at teaching while striving to awaken from the nightmare of World War I -- the national catastrophe that...more
Published March 1st 2006 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published January 1st 1972)
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We saw the 1980 Masterpiece Theatre series compliments of Netflix. Then I wanted to read the book. The series followed the storyline almost completely. Reading the book after seeing hours of the characters on the film, made it seem like visiting old friends. Below is from the end flaps of the 1972 first printing of the book (obtained on order from the local library).
"... an England emerging from the horrors and bloodshed of the 1914-18 war into the twenty years of change, upheaval and uneasy pe...more
Very rarely do I find a book that captures so much of my mind that I read every word. This was one of those books! It embraced a heart for teaching, a passion for history, a draw to love, and a strength through hardship all in a landscape of a prep school in England. Looking at life between the two wars that both engulfed the world, from the perspective of a small, secluded, and hidden piece of the earth was one of the most interesting perspectives I have been immersed in! It challenged my mind...more
A British boys' boarding school, in the period between the two world wars provides the setting for this lengthy novel about a shell shocked young man who takes on a temporary job as a teacher and ends up spending the next 22 years gradually learning to love everything about his life as a school master, housemaster and eventually the headmaster. For those of us Anglophiles who loved Hogwarts School of Wizardy, Bamfylde is the next best thing and actually goes a long ways to helping us understand...more
C Mac
hello all

friend told me to try this book
thought to myself

my grandparents escaped the slums
of Victorian London
to live in Canada

don't want to read book about training
the English upper class

grabbed hold of me
when it ended
it was as if a small part of the world died

another books as ships story

ship that takes you away to another
time and place
took me to another time another place

yours truly

3 1/2 Stars

I think I deserve one of those shiny silver star stickers on my forehead for getting through all 678 pages! My paperback was literally falling apart in my hands and required frequent sticky tape first aid as I read.

As my friends know, I love chunky sagas and epics but I'll be honest with you. You could EASILY chop 200 pages off this without affecting the story one iota.

IN A NUTSHELL: A shell shock soldier ( WW1) is discharged from a lengthy hospital stay and is encouraged to take a po...more
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Adaptation of RF Delderfield's classic drama set between the two world wars.

SPLENDID!! I just mooched another book by this author.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
I really enjoyed this (the subject of a Masterpiece Theatre back in the early 80s) story of an English schoolmaster at a country "public school" from 1918-1940.
I simply wallowed in this book almost smelling the lavender polish on the wood of the school. I was taught by men who were probably the pupils in this sort of school. To them your own achievement and sense of self worth was more important than exam results that the current age is obsessed with. The boys in the book radiated decency and honesty deep down. There were clear boundaries of good conduct and morals which carried the characters in good stead throughout life.

The battered shellshocked WW...more
Read this last year along with Delderfield's trilogy A Horseman Riding By, now he is one of my favourite authors.
Behind all the stories is the larger theme of the beautiful Western Civilisation as it manifested itself in country life in Wales and Southwest England before the Great War and how the tremendous loss of life and morals impacted on that previously sheltered world.
As a Jew I notice that RFD includes at least one, usually of foreign origin, Jewish character in each of his books and trea...more
A remarkable novel. A clear evocation of an era long gone by; sentimental in the best sense of that word—honest about what matters, valuing it, and figuring out how to live in it. The story takes place between two wars, the first and the second--the big ones, as they are often characterized--and follows the career of a veteran of the first who comes to this lonely outpost for healing. He finds himself here—a teacher‚ and grounds himself. It is a nostalgic book; at times, a very sad book--I read...more
Fantastic - Delderfield is a fantastic writer, and though I was disappointed to find that this was his final book (published in 1972, the year he died), I am delighted to see that he was a pretty prolific writer and there is much more for me to enjoy in his other works.

David Powlett-Jones is blown out of a trench in 1918 and shipped back to England to recuperate, never to return to the battlefront in Europe - physically recoverable but suffering from shell-shock. His doctor suggests that he con...more
Rebecca Huston
A beautiful novel set in a boarding school between the World Wars. Lt. David Powlett-Jones arrives in the countryside, suffering shell-shock and looking to find a way back into the land of the living. Along the way, he finds love, friendship, hope, and tragedy. Terrific novel, made into a great BBC miniseries.

For the longer review, please go here:
I sometimes still wake up in the morning and look forward to reading more about P.J. and Bamfylde. The book could have gone on another thousand pages as far as I'm concerned and I would have been riveted. Very English. A great tutorial on the British Boys' School and how that effects their society.
"...a book about a ... more modern England, an England emerging from the horrors and bloodshed of the 1914-18 war into the twenty years of change, upheaval and uneasy peace that ended with the Second World War.

"[The] hero is a schoolmaster, David Powlett-Jones, who survives the dreary carnage of the Western to become a teacher at a remote English 'public' school, gradually maturing from a shell-shocked veteran scarcely older than his charges into a great headmaster, whose influence touches and c...more
Julia Reed
I am a sucker for a good period novel, I admit it. And R.F. Delderfield has always scratched that niche for me nicely. On a recent beach trip I decided to revisit "To Serve Them All My Days", one of my very favorite Delderfield novels. It's the story of a WWI veteran, just returned from the front with a severe case of PTSD. The prescribed cure is a stint in an enclosed community focused on work and camaraderie: in this case, an English public school. I don't know that in modern times we would pu...more
Re-reading this novel always makes me even more sure that teaching is the most undervalued profession in our world. David Powlett-Jones' story is always a source of renewed faith for me - in more ways than one. In no other profession, except possibly a religious vocation, is the gift of oneself so important and so rewarding. For all those who offer their knowledge, experience, and core beliefs to others I give my utmost gratitude. Whether we teach in a classroom, at a kitchen table, or in our im...more
Twenty plus years in the life of a British schoolmaster, from the end of the first World War to the start of the second. Davy Powlett-Jones arrives at Bamfylde as a shell-shocked young man without the social background or degree to survive in the world of a privileged public (i.e. private) school. The headmaster, however, sees something in him that makes him hire Davy, who gradually comes to love the school and its students.

This is a perfect book for those who love British school stories, but wa...more
What a wonderful, beautiful book. I was so sad when its 400+ pages were done - they had flown by. It explores the period spanning from the end of WWI into the beginning of WWII with grace, sensitivity, and a very sympathetic protagonist. The reader comes to appreciate Bamfylde as much as PJ does. Near the end of the book, I had a moment when I set it down because the approach the author took to explaining what was happening historically and what the experience of that was actually like gave me a...more
A school book if ever I read one, and not one bit boring at that. Delderfield tells the story of the Great War soldier who is discharged with shellshock, and recuperates by teaching in a school on the moors of Devon. Pupils and teachers are characterised vividly, with drama, tragedy and humour dished out in equal measures. Time appears to repeat itself when the Second World War arrives - and the Headmaster who served in WW1 is now doing what his predecessor did at that time. Keeping track of his...more
The first 60 pages were a bit of a grind for me, but the last 534 were wonderful and I will definitely read this author again. This is a saga about a boy's school and a particular teacher that spans about twenty years. I enjoyed the perspective and how the history of the time period that begins in 1914 is woven through the story. This story feels very personal and although it is fictional, it reads as if it were non-fiction. I have ordered the BBC miniseries from my library and am looking forwar...more
This is a glorious novel. Set in a second-tier English boys' boarding school between the wars, To Serve Them All My Days follows the life of David Powlett-Jones from a shell-shocked young veteran of the trenches in World War I to becoming a fine headmaster of Bamfylde School, located on the moors of North Devon. It's a long book at 638 pages, but worth the commitment. The story weaves Pow-Wow's (as the boys affectionately call him) personal journey through that of the school and the various char...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although it got long towards the end. This is a story about a young man who returns from WWI a shell-shocked soldier, and is placed as an English teacher in a boys' boarding school in the country, as as way to heal. He ends up making this his career. I loved the plot, characters, descriptions of the time and place, etc.

It's interesting - I never could get into the author's better known book: God is an Englishman.
Jim Kittelberger
My favorite book. Bought it at a book sale for fifty cents, then discovered it was made into a miniseries on Masterpiece theater. I bought that for considerably more than fifty cents, but loved it anyway. There should be some great words of wisdom to impart from those two events, but alas none. I still love the book. I may buy it for my Kindle.
An oldie but goodie. I loved this story of an unlikely headmaster of a boy's boarding school in England between the wars. I have ordered his other series to start on right away. I also watched a little of this on DVD- was a Masterpiece series. Lovely.
Wonderful and inspiring reading. This book later in 1980s was a miniseries on PBS-- way b4 vcrs. I spent each night watching this. Though must say I found the book much more to my liking then the miniseries.
FANTASTIC. Far superior to Mr Chips, It works on many levels - as a teacher, student story, as an anti-war novel, as an insight into an overshadowed period of British History and as a sprawling, epic novel.
Lenny Husen
This book's only crime is that it was boring. I did read up to page 226 of this 600 page tome.

The writing is good, actually very good, and the main character is sympathetic and likable. Other characters also were portrayed realistically.

The story takes place in a British Boy's school in the 1920's, and the main character, David Powlett-Jones, is wounded emotionally and physically after WWI, and from the deaths of his father and 2 brothers before the war.
The problem is, the book seemed to be a r...more
This book struck a chord with me. I watched the BBC adaptation several years ago and recall enjoying it immensely. When I found this book, I knew I had to read it as well. This book spans the inter-war period of the early 20th Century, stretching from the end of the First World War until "the end of the beginning" in Churchill's words of the Second World War. David Powlett-Jones finds Bamfylde a place of strength and stability, even when his own life and the world around him is shaken to its ver...more
I loved this.
Towards the end of World War I, David Powlett-Jones is discharged after being in the hospital, injured and shell-shocked, for months. He is sent to Bamfylde, a private school in Devon, to teach history to boys who are less than ten years his junior. He has no experience as a teacher, and does not even have a degree, but the doctor felt that this would be the best remedy for the soul-sickness that David suffers from after spending three years in the trenches. And soon David comes to realize that...more
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British Literature: September 2012 Book 4 15 Sep 13, 2012 05:49AM  
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Ronald Frederick Delderfield (12 February 1912 – 24 June 1972) was a popular English novelist and dramatist, many of whose works have been adapted for television and are still widely read.

Several of Delderfield's historical novels and series involve young men who return from war and lead lives in England that allow the author to portray the sweep of English history and delve deeply into social his...more
More about R.F. Delderfield...
God Is an Englishman (Swann Saga, #1) Theirs Was the Kingdom (Swann Saga, #2) Give Us This Day (Swann Saga, #3) Green Gauntlet Diana

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“One of these days the entire Western world will grind to a halt, its apparatus clogged with forms, files and memoranda.” 5 likes
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