Willans and Searle

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This is a bibliography page, concerning a work to which reference is made elsewhere in this guide.

Geoffrey Willans wrote, and Ronald Searle illustrated four humorous and satirical books with the same setting, characters and ideas: the fictional preparatory school St Custards; the prep schoolboy Nigel Molesworth; and the ideas of the latter about education

These are shown as absurd - but also containing serious ideas about the failings of the adult world, and adult perceptions about the foolishness of the young. The four books were later issued in one compendious volume. (The spelling in the titles is that of the first person narrator himself - the eponymous Molesworth. The first book was very popular by the standards of its time, selling 53,848 copies between its publication in October and the end of the year.

  • Down with Skool! A Guide to School Life for Tiny Pupils and their Parents (1953), London, Max Parrish
  • How to be Topp: A Guide to Sukcess for Tiny Pupils, Including All There is to Kno about Space (1954) London, Max Parrish
  • Whizz for Atomms: A Guide to Survival in the 20th Century for Fellow Pupils, their Doting Maters, Pompous Paters and Any Others who are Interested (1956), London, Max Parrish
  • Back in the Jug Agane (1959), London, Max Parrish
  • The Compleet Molesworth (1958), London, Max Parrish
Geoffrey Willans (1911-1958) had himself been a prep school master, while writing humorous books. He submitted the idea, and then the draft, of Down with Skool to the cartoonist Ronald Searle (1920-2011), then famous for the St Trinians drawings and books. Searle liked the idea, and the collaboration flourished until Willans' premature death at 47 from heart attack.