Elinor M Brent Dyer's Chalet School

I've had an, almost, lifelong passion for Elinor M Brent Dyer's Chalet School books. I'm not alone. Many people love her books set in far flung locations (certainly far flung in1930s England!). Her early books are set in Austria, then Guernsey; a few War years in Wales, and then off to Switzerland. They are incredibly glamorous and adventurous for their time.

I first discovered the Chalet School series when I was about 9 and it was love at first reading. There are 58 titles in series written between 1920s and 1960s. There are also many connecting titles. Brent-Dyer's complete ouevre probably reaches almost 100 books. 

My first books were published by Armada and, I later realised, heavily abridged. I was lucky to find a few of the later books, hardbacks, in library sales, and a couple in bookshops, heavy with the dust of several decades and still priced in "old money"!

The years went on and I had probably only read about a third of the total series. It was so tantalising to pick up hints and clues in the books to other titles, but not be able to acquire them. This, of course, was long before the internet and the joys of ABE. I scoured second hand bookshop, withdrawn library book sales and friends' bookshelves. My parents and friends were all on high alert. There were a couple of finds but it was slim pickings. Then, I had an amazing find in a bookshop in Skipton. Almost all of the missing books. I was hyperventilating! Mum and Dad stepped up and bought me the lot for Christmas. So exciting. I'd finally managed to get my hands on all those amazing stories, fill in the tantalising gaps and make all of the connections. Bliss!

Many years passed and I decided to upgrade my paperback collection to all hardbacks, and then, years later to hardbacks with dustwrappers. Could it get any better? Well, yes it could, it turned out.

During all of the years I've been collecting Brent Dyer's books, I have had a strange recurring dream. In this dream I am in a bookshop and come across five previously unpublished Chalet School books. Because this is a dream, I never find out what the titles are, but it's always five books! I just know they are some of the "missing" books! Then some years ago, fellow fans started talking about the "missing terms". When Brent Dyer wrote the series she often missed out large chunks of the narrative; referring to them in later books, with tantalising clues. Some years ago, Friends of the Chalet School (FOCS) published a guide to the "missing terms" and then Girls Gone By Publishers (GGBP) started publishing some of these "fill in" titles. They are written by fans and are totally in the style of Brent-Dyer. There are other "fill ins" published, but GGBP has published by far the largest number. 

To date, many of the "missing terms" have been covered. I am currently reading the latest offering The Chalet School Returns to the Alps which covers the term when the Chalet School removes to Switzerland in the early 1950s. So far, like all the other titles, it is excellent and totally written in Brent-Dyer style. Lisa Townsend, the author, is covering material that Brent-Dyer skimmed over in her books and is really drilling down into some of the lesser characters and mistresses.

I still dream about the "missing" books, but not as often, now that so many of my questions and gaps are being filled!