What is it about the Chalet School that once it sucks you in, it gets a vice like grip and will not let go. What started as simply a positive response to a plea for one particular image, should never have been coupled together with time to think whilst on holiday. Oh well I like a project and Happy Birthday Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, 118 years old.
Of the 58 Chalet School first edition hardback titles (this includes Tom Tackles The Chalet School but not The Mystery At The Chalet School or The Chalet School And Rosalie) I have worked out there were 153 images produced. This includes the cover illustrations and the black and white plates which later became line drawings. The first 12 books had 4 plates, 3 of the later books had none and The Chalet School Reunion had 5! Throw into the mix Rosalie, the 18 reprinted hardbacks, the illustrations from the Chalet Books for Girls, not to mention the paperbacks, oh and the illustrations on the spines… *breathes* It becomes a figure I cannot compute – let alone attempt to check. [At this point I become paranoid about my adding up and recount to get 153, yippee.]
All this does have a point. I wanted to look at the portrayal of heroine Joey Bettany/Maynard through the illustrations of the original editions, and added in some maths for fun. Joey was ubiquitous in the early books, and the artwork reflects this. From the dustwrapper of The School At The Chalet, her image features in some way for the first 14 books and as a then a scattering through the rest of the series. I have counted there are 53 images of Joey in the first edition hardbacks, plus another 10 from the reprints. Please note as many pictures only feature her back or side view, I have had to add an element of my own interpretation, but I don’t think it skews the figures too much.
It is not my plan to bombard you all with dozens of images. The dustwrapper art is quite googleable, and do browse The Chalet School Journal, a wonderful website I first discovered nearly 10 years ago. It has lots more images I cannot bring you. There had to be some self-restraint. Going through my scanned images I found I had 39 out of the 53 images easily to hand!
From The School At The Chalet to Bride Leads The Chalet School, the books were all originally illustrated by Nina K Brisley. The way she depicts Joey as a young girl is instantly recognisable with her short, dark bob. I do love the tone that her drawings give to these books and it was quite a challenge to choose which pictures to share. If Brisley had one fault with me, it was that her characters do look much younger than expected, but in fairness I am viewing them with modern eyes.
Tucked away inside the early fat hardback editions there are some truly stunning pictures. I could not avoid sharing a few of my personal favourites. The first, well that rain, and to me it perfectly fits the description in the books. The second as the clarity of the reflections from the ice makes it all the more chilling. The third, well who couldn’t like a picture of Jo suppressing Bill!
Trying to capture Joey on the verge of adulthood seems a little more elusive. I don’t think it’s just me in that the first Joey appears much older than the second? These are both from New House At The Chalet School, when Joey was around 18 years old.
The New Chalet School marks a change in the depiction of Jo. In Jo Returns To The Chalet School we hear Joey is growing her hair, and so the infamous earphones make their first appearance. By the time of the next book, The Chalet School In Exile, her hair has grown long enough for flying plaits!
The Chalet School Goes To It is the first title which contains no images of Jo. She appears on the dustwrapper of the next book, Highland Twins At The Chalet School, but after this her appearances are mostly limited to the holiday or celebration books.
I am sure these were not intended to be hilarious, but in truth they do make me laugh. The last image of Joey drawn by Brisley is from Jo To The Rescue, where we have the Joey and the meat scenario – finally we get to the illustration that was the reason for this post! Then there are a couple of gems from Joey Goes To The Oberland (where I had to include the cover, because it is so amusing.) Though I am not entirely sure what is going on with Jo’s hair.
Her two final appearances on a dustwrapper are for Coming of Age of The Chalet School and The Chalet School Reunion. As Reunion celebrated the 50th book in the series, some special coloured inside illustrations were made. What is there to say about these? Perhaps the palette of colours chosen is to blame! Great earphones though.
Finally there is a rather revealing frontispiece from Joey And Co. In Tirol, then the last we ever see of Joey is the inside illustration from Summer Term At The Chalet School.
This being Joey, it is not really the end. Her image appears at least 5 spines and, as I have mentioned, the reprinted hardbacks, and countless paperback editions. There are also images of Joey within the Chalet Books for Girls, for the original versions of Mystery and Tom part one and part two as well as the short stories. You just can’t get rid of the girl.
So, back to the figures.
There are 154 first edition images (this includes the cover of Rosalie) and Joey features in 53, so 34.4% of the artwork. If you add in the reprinted hardback editions there are another 21 images (18 books, 2 frontispieces and one book with two cover designs) and 10 of these feature Joey, so 46.6% – (this figure is quite loaded as most of the reprints were Tyrol books). Together there are 175 images in total and 63 of Joey. Bringing the overall average to 36%. I should really compare this figure to the next prolific character for some context, any offers? Also if someone would like to do the paperbacks, I would be only too pleased!