Schoolmistresses have two kinds of chest. They have either ‘bosoms out to here’ (vast and shelf-like) or ‘bosoms down to here’ (sagging and fleshless). Bosoms are always a source of fascination for growing schoolgirls. No wonder the women who confide their boarding-school memories to Ysenda Maxtone Graham in this exuberant book invariably begin their reminiscences of teachers with the instantly definable bosoms.
Maxtone Graham’s interviewees were all packed off to board between 1939 and 1979 (her cut-off point, after which modern comforts such as duvets came in) at schools often founded by the unmarried daughters of a widowed Victorian clergyman – named Maud and Millicent, perhaps – on England’s bracing