|Home||Books and Story Papers||Greyfriars Gallery||Television and Radio||Ephemera||Hamilton||Acknowledgements||Links|
Morcove School was the creation of Horace Phillips (Marjorie Stanton). Phillips, whose writing style could be very Victorian sentimentalist in outlook, took his chance when offered by the AP to create his own fictional school - Morcove School in Devon, basing some of his characters in part on successful ones created by Charles Hamilton for the boys papers. The main characters revolved around Betty Barton - the whole saga really began with her coming to Morcove from Lancashire as a penniless scholarship girl (with echoes of Mark Linley), doing her best to overcome adversity and eventually winning, to ultimately get voted Fourth Form Captain. Over the years there were many adventures and many ups and downs but she maintained her position as a more demure Tom Merry - "We'll manage" becoming a kind of catchphrase for her. She established a circle of friends that became known as the Study no. 12 coterie, staunch friends being madcap Polly Linton (almost Bob Cherry), languid Paula Creel (a feminine D'Arcy), and later playful Naomer Nakara arrived in a Hurree Singh role. Plus Dolly, Madge, Tess and in the early days, Trixie. In the late '20's the ultra-sophisticated Pam Willoughby arrived, who turned out the last major character to be introduced into the stories. On the baddies side there was at the first Cora and Judith Grandways, replaced in the '30's with the carbon-copy scheming Denver sisters. There were many more regulars, all part of a delightful little old fashioned world.
Morcove was the main feature of Schoolgirls' Own and was published weekly from Feb 1921 to May 1936, a total of 798 issues. It was started by the Amalgamated Press as a Companion Paper to the successful School Friend for the girls story paper market in the same manner as the Gem and Magnet were for the boys, but as those two also had their girl readers, the SO also drew many boy readers. This was partly down to the SO having a very attractive appearance, Leonard Shields drew the covers (when not used as adverts instead) and interior for the Morcove stories throughout its run which very much added to and contrasted well with Marjorie Stanton's (Horace Philips) writings. Morcove made a brief appearance in the Girls' Favourite in issues 41-54 (11th November 1922 until 10th February 1923).
However in the harsher world of 1936 its popularity had waned and Morcove was submerged into the Schoolgirl for 2 years, the last story appearing the Annual in 1938 while the Schoolgirls' Own Library reprints of the tales carried on until 1940 when the War closed it down.
Introduction courtesy of Gary.
In an article for the 1979 Collectors' Digest Annual Tommy Keen explains why Cliff House and Morcove were his favourite school stories. You can read the article here.
Denis Bird wrote six short articles "Morcove Musings" for the CD between 1994 and 1996. You can read them here.
Neal Beatty has compiled a list of characters that featured in the Morcove saga and has kindly shared it. You can find it here.
Sylvia Reed has been a Morcove fan for a good number of years and has published a number of articles. Sylvia explains what Morcove means to her.....
" I had been reading The Schoolgirls’ Own Library since 1969, and it wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that I learnt that a first series of these little books existed. (With thanks to Alison). One of the SGOL’s I obtained was a Morcove story, and from memory it was SGOL 427 The Girl Morcove Suspected. I started to read it and hadn’t got far into the story when I began to think: “What is the point of all this apparently endless attention to detail and when is the actual story going to begin?” Anyway, I persevered, and by the end of the story I began to realise that here was something quite different to anything I had previously read! By the time I picked up the second Morcove story – I began to realise that as well as the central plot, all of Phillips’ apparently endless attention to detail was as important as the plot. In time to come I was eager to read more of this apparently endless attention to detail! Cora Grandways audacious exploits on her motor bike, tearing through the countryside at 18mph; Pam’s serenity;, Paula’s ‘Bai jove, geals, I am most pwostwate!’; Polly’s explosiveness; Miss Massingham’s autocracy and Betty’s leadership skills, to name a few. So, without really realising it, I was being drawn hook, line and sinker into the world of Morcove, high on the wild windswept cliff top in North Devon. I began to form in my mind what the Barncombe Road looked like, Barncombe Creamery’s delicious teas tasted like and how it felt to be running up and down the Zigzag steps with the wind blowing in my hair. Not long after, I discovered the weekly magazine The Schoolgirls’ Own, and found out that the main feature story was Morcove, and that the illustrations were drawn by a certain Leonard Shields, who managed to bring Morcove and the girls into something real. As well as Alison, I have many people to thank for my Morcove collection, amongst them are Mary, Gary and Keith So, why don’t you have a try at aiming for Morcove’s star, and see if it shines for you as well."
Horace Phillips, writing as Marjorie Stanton, based his famous Morcove around the locality of Mortehoe, North Devon. Phillips seemed to know the area well, or maybe he actually lived in the area, as he based some of his localities on actual places around Mortehoe. Sylvia Reed examines the evidence and presents her findings here.
Although little is known of Horace Phillips a couple of articles have appeared in the Collectors Digest over the years. A brief article by Ray Hopkins looks at what Phillips did before creating Morcove, you can read the article here. In 1961 Bill Lofts made contact with Phillips who was by then in his eighties and living in retirement on a farm in the West Country. A few letters were exchanged and some information made available in the CD at the time but in 1984 Lofts published a more detailed article. You can read it here.
More about Morcove
An in depth analysis of Morcove- Anything you need to know about Morcove should be covered by the following articles by Sylvia Reed. Coming soon - the Morcove Map.
More about Morcove
More Again on Morcove
Morcove Character analyses
Sylvia has produced a number of detailed character analyses for the more prominent members of Morcove. Click on the links below to open the files.
Freda Jane Blair
Morcove Storylines and Plots
Sylvia has detailed a number of Morcove story lines and plots. Click on the links below to open the files.