Hilary Clare acquired her first school story at the age of eight, by which time she was also borrowing them from the public library- Dimsie was an early favourite. Encouraged by her mother, who had read them back in the 1920s, she was soon deeply into the Abbey books. Other authors followed, courtesy of jumble sales. Brent-Dyer was encountered on holiday aged nine but she had to wait a long time for a real immersion in Chalet land. While she maintained her interest in children’s books in general, school stories did not become a particular interest until the advent of Folly opened a forum for discussion and she began to research various authors’ lives, starting with Evelyn Smith, a special favourite. Work for the first edition of The Encyclopaedia of Girls’ School Stories allowed her to combine her history degree and profession as a genealogist with literary work, and has led her into all sorts of entertaining by-ways. The recent revision has benefited from the online advances in the world of genealogy, which she has much enjoyed exploring.
The Encyclopaedia of Girls’ School Stories (Volume One) by Sue Sims and Hilary Clare is now published. Volume Two will follow in September and Volume Three in November. It would be very helpful if you could order these now.