The Molesworth books were written by Geoffrey Willans and illustrated by Ronald Searle*. They are the definitive works on the British public school system. Tom Brown's Schooldays has more gritty realism, Billy Bunter has more tuck, but Molesworth has far worse spelling, as any 'fule kno'. In fact fans of the books may realise only years after first reading them that Molesworth's 'grate frend peason' was, in fact, Pearson.
Some might feel that the bullying - especially of Molesworth 2, Nigel's brother - the atrocious food and the casually indifferent teachers are a poor reflection on the British attitude to children, but that is 'becos' they are 'uterly wet' and 'a weed like fotherington thomas who skip along saying hello clouds hello sky he is a gurl chiz chiz'.
It could be said that the Molesworth books were ahead of their time, in that the practice of mis-spelling every third word foreshadowed the style of 90% of Internet posts - although in the case of Willans it was the result of satirical intent rather than illiteracy. Perhaps Nigel Molesworth should be nominated as the patron saint of Internet users.
The Molesworth books rank alongside Sellar and Yeatman's authoritative history of Britain, 1066 And All That, as required reading for anyone seeking to understand the British psyche.
The Molesworth books are :
- How To Be Topp
- Wizz For Atomms
- Down With Skool
- Back In The Jug Agane
These books are also available as The Compleet Molesworth.