Thinking about ‘Malory Towers’ and the ‘Famous Five’ I’m led to wonder “what happened next?” so in a fit of boredom/essay-avoidance here’s my thoughts on what ever happened next to the primary players in the Malory Towers and Famous Five series’.
Darrell Rivers – succeeded in her goal of becoming a writer, she is an award-winning popular columnist in a national newspaper and has a sideline in brilliantly witty plays, stories and songs for children. Is a frequent winner of the Blue Peter Book Award. Married late in life to a fellow journalist and lives in a small cottage in Cornwall with three dogs, often sees her best friend Sally.
Felicity Rivers – followed in her sisters footsteps by becoming the Head Girl at Malory Towers but unlike her sister, chose to follow a very different path. After leaving Malory Towers she enrolled in a nursing programme at Great Ormond Street but didn’t find nursing to her liking, she worked odd secretarial jobs before marrying a postman. She has four boys and sometimes wishes she had a girl so that she could send her off to Malory Towers.
Daphne – Malory Towers taught her a lot about herself and after finishing she spent a few years working as a secretary before deciding to join the police force. She quickly rose in the ranks and was appointed as the first female police commissionaire. She also spends her time going round schools talking about how she was able to turn her life around.
Sally Hope – read History and Literature at St Andrews before becoming a teacher and spending her life guiding the next generation of students at Malory Towers. She eventually took over as headmistress and saw the school through some troubling times.
Alicia Johns– after a rocky start at St Andrews where she was studying law (drink, drug, boys and parties), she got involved with student politics, leading several successful controversial campaigns. After graduating top of her class she became a top barrister specialising in women’s rights cases. She is divorced with two children.
June Johns – true to her word, she continued to work in the highest Malory Towers tradition and went onto to become one of England’s top sportswomen, excelling at all sports and winning three Olympic gold medals. In interviews she always makes sure to pay tribute to Malory Towers and to Amanda, made her believe she could do it.
Betty – found the influence of boys, parties, drugs and drink too much of a draw and after failing her first year at St Andrews she dropped out and spent a few years doing nothing. She worked a succession of low paid jobs way below her skills level before realising she was better than all that. Working all hours of the day she completed a degree in Childhood Studies & Psychology with Counselling with the Open University and went onto become a children’s therapist.
Mary-Lou – after finishing her nursing studies she accepted a position at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and become very popular with staff and patients. She never married, despite many offers, choosing to dedicate her life to nursing.
Gwen – after several miserable years in a dead-end job with the tax office, she managed to finish her education and became a civil servant. She’s married to a fellow civil servant and they have two children, Gwen learned her lessons late in life and has managed to avoid the mistakes her mother made with her.
Maureen – unlike Gwen she didn’t have to learn her lesson the hard way, after finishing at Malory Towers she went onto an exclusive Finishing School when she excelled and forgot everything that Malory Towers ever taught her. She is married to her third husband and has a minor drinking problem.
Irene – attended the Guildhall School of Music and after several years as a jobbing musician she began to work with a top lyricist, writing the music for a new opera. It went onto to win several awards. She took a break from her music career to gain a PhD in mathematics and now tours the world with her award-winning mathematical orchestra. Is in a long-term relationship with a fellow musician but has no plans to marry him.
Belinda – didn’t find art school to her liking and after several clashes with the teachers she became disillusioned and left. After a few years working for an interior decorating firm she decided to re-train as a scenic painter and set designer. She is now the head of the scenic department with the Royal Opera House and designed the sets for her long-time best friend Irene’s opera (it won her an award). Is happily married to a BBC sound engineer.
Mavis – after two years Mavis entered the Royal Academy of Music to study opera. She worked hard and won many rave reviews for her student performances, great things were expected of her. After graduating she spent a few years with the chorus of the English National Opera, occasionally taking minor parts but never quite making it to a principle part. She stared in Irene’s new opera, winning rave reviews and finally launching her opera career, she is now a sought after and much loved Diva.
Moria Linton – she studied French Literature at St Andrews, but her real passion was sports and she got very involved with every women’s sports club at St Andrews. She made a name for herself as a top amateur coach and went onto manage several very successful women’s basketball clubs in America. She was recently appointed as head coach for a men’s basketball team, hitting the headlines and causing a certain amount of heat.
Bill & Clarissa – their riding school became very successful until Clarissa became ill and had to undergo a heart transplant. Bill was unable to run the stables by herself and was forced to sell the business but was able to keep the stables and a few horses. They remained in Cornwall and became well-established as horse trainers, specialising in horses for films. They recently entered into a civil partnership and held a lavish ceremony for all their friends from their time at Malory Towers.
Amanda Chartletow – unfortunately her injured leg never healed and she was unable to take part in the Olympics. She stayed at Malory Towers, acting as a coach for the younger teams before taking over as the Games Mistress. All the girls at Malory Towers respected her knowledge and skills, even if they were absolutely terrified of her. She shocked everyone by taking her life five years into her tenure as Games Mistress, no one really knows the reason but they suspect it was because she never fully accepted her lot in life and was deeply unhappy that her dream was over. Her funeral was attended by many former girls who had been inspired by her and was quite a sombre occasion.
Julian – was called up during the last two years of WW2. He became a fighter pilot, was shot down and taken prisoner somewhere over France. After the war he suffered from post-traumatic stress and spent several years unable to cope with the real world. He started writing poems and stories as a way to cope and soon became a best-selling author, praised for his gritty sense of humour. He married a local school teacher and together they have three children.
Dick – stayed in the army after his national service, rising swiftly in the ranks to become a regimental sergeant major. Is known for his quick thinking, fairness and commitment to the army. Is very proud of his older brother, but no longer talks to his cousin or sister.
Anne – left school to get married. She soon realised though that while she had often enjoyed playing ‘house wife’ as a child, things really weren’t matching up to her ideal. After a difficult decision, she decided to leave her husband and move to London where she became involved in the alternative art scene. She lives openly with a married man and campaigns fiercely for women’s rights, getting arrested several times and spending five years in a women’s prison for her role in an arson attack.
George – moved to London and joined the Metropolitan Police, becoming one of the youngest female detectives on the force. Her private life was exposed when she accidentally let slip that she shares her life with another woman, the scandal hit her and the police force badly and she was forced to resign. She spent some time living with Anne, who introduced her to some of the women she knew through the alternative art scene but George missed her life as a police officer. After a chance encounter she met the woman of her dreams and together they emigrated to Australia where they have a very successful sheep farm.
When I was little, Enid Blyton ranked high on my list of favourite authors (she still does really). I was borderline obsessed with her ‘Famous Five’ series, which I ranked higher than her ‘Secret Seven’ series and had a bit of a disdain towards anyone who thought otherwise! The ‘Famous Five’s adventures always seemed more real, more exciting and I think I had a bit of a crush on George (she was totally a lesbian in waiting!)
One book series had a profound impact on me, an impact I hadn’t really thought about until recently. I used to get the Malory Towers series from my local library, I would read them I one sitting and fantasise about going to a place like Malory Towers. It seemed such a brilliant place. I wanted the sort of friendship that Darrell found, the companionship and the chance to shine. Miss Grayling seemed like a marvellous headmistress, I loved her speech the new girls on their first day :-
“One day you will leave school and go out into the world as young women. You should take with you eager minds, kind hearts, and will to help. You should take with you a good understanding of many things, and a willingness to accept responsibility and show yourselves as women to be loved and trusted.” – p25 (Egmont edition, 2006)
I’ve always felt that this is the sort of wisdom that all girls should hear and no one will ever convince me that the Malory Towers series belong in a different age. In the stories Darrell learns responsibility, she learns about friendship and being kind to others. There are moments in the books where Darrell is downright mean (her first treatment of Sally Hope and Mary-Lou) but she learns fast that she must not judge others so harshly. In my all time favourite instalment ‘In the Fifth at Malory Towers’ the girls put on a pantomime, you can probably work out why this book is my favourite – not only was the performance side part of the story, the goings on behind the scenes played a huge part.
I wish that someone would make a TV series or film based on the Malory Towers series, not an update or a modern setting or grittier but a proper adaptation.