Episode 32: Picnic at Hanging Rock & Other Stories

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‘Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction, my readers must decide for themselves.’ It’s a scorching St Valentine’s Day in 1900 when three boarding-school girls and a teacher disappear during a day-trip to Hanging Rock in the arid Australian outback. Fact or fiction? Misadventure or murder? Accident or assassination? Join us on our latest literary podcast adventure as we delve into the mystery, history and hysteria of Joan Lindsay’s classic Australian Gothic novel with Kate Young, author of The Little Library Cookbook. From the slow-seeping horror of Hanging Rock to coming-of-age tales of tuck boxes and midnight feasts, high jinks and humour, Kate guides the Slightly Foxed magazine team through the school-story tradition and asks why it’s such fertile ground for fiction. On the way we visit the Chalet School, Malory Towers and St Trinian’s, and slip into darker territory with Decline and Fall, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

In this month’s literary expedition, we take a peek inside Quentin Blake’s House of Illustration, and to finish there’s the usual wide-ranging round-up of current reading featuring: Anthony Buckeridge’s classic Jennings series of prep-school stories; Emily Danforth’s romp, Plain Bad Heroines, inspired by Shirley Jackson; and Tsitsi Dangarembga’s tale of a young girl from a rural village in Zimbabwe, Nervous Conditions.


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Show Notes

Please find links to books, articles, and further reading listed below. The digits in brackets following each listing refer to the minute and second they are mentioned. (Episode duration: 44 minutes; 24 seconds)

Books Mentioned

We may be able to get hold of second-hand copies of the out-of-print titles listed below. Please get in touch with Jess in the Slightly Foxed office for more information.

Picnic at Hanging Rock, Joan Lindsay (2:02)

The Little Library Cookbook, The Little Library Year and The Little Library Christmas, Kate Young

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark (14:14)

The Naughtiest Girl in the School, Enid Blyton (15:14)

– Malory Towers is a series of six novels by Enid Blyton. The first novel is First Term at Malory Towers (15:21)

– The Chalet School is a series of 64 novels by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer (15:51)

Frost in May, Antonia White (20:37)

– The St Trinian’s books by Ronald Searle are out of print (22:53)

Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh (23:44)

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro (25:17)

The Secret History, Donna Tartt (27:06)

Murder Most Unladylike, Robin Stevens (28:37)

An Experiment in Love, Hilary Mantel (30:17)

Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding-Schools, 1939–1979, Ysenda Maxtone Graham (30:55)

The Worst Witch, Jill Murphy (31:49)

Our Lady of the Nile, Scholastique Mukasonga (33:43)

Plain Bad Heroines, Emily M. Danforth (38:53)

– The Jennings books by Anthony Buckeridge are out of print (40:11)

Nervous Conditions, Tsitsi Dangarembga (41:53)

Related Slightly Foxed Articles

Hazy Memories of Hanging Rock, Kate Young on Joan Lindsay, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Issue 64 (2:02)

Chalet Girls, Daisy Hay on Elinor M. Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School books, Issue 56 (16:07)

Once a Catholic . . ., Melissa Harrison on Antonia White, Frost in May, Issue 54 (20.37)

Old Girls and Very Old Girls, Nicola Shulman on Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Terms & Conditions, Issue 52 (30:55)

C. T. Jennings and the Problem of Evil, Robin Blake on Anthony Buckeridge, the Jennings books, Issue 17 (40:11)

Educating Ulyth, Ysenda Maxtone Graham on the girls’ school stories of Angela Brazil, Issue 44

Other Links

The Little Library Cafe: food inspired by literature from Kate Young

Leave No Trace, Madeleine Watts on lost-children narratives in Australia, The Believer (8:36)

Friends of the Chalet School (15:51)

House of Illustration, London (36:24)

Opening music: Preludio from Violin Partita No.3 in E Major by Bach

The Slightly Foxed Podcast is hosted by Philippa Lamb and produced by Podcastable


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Comments & Reviews

  1. George Woodman says:

    I was so glad to hear An Experiment in Love by Hilary Mantel praised. It is a very evocative novel, especially for anyone who lived in a university hall of residence in England in the seventies. Hilary Mantel’s early novels get overlooked now and it is one of the joys of Slightly Foxed that it highlights areas like this.

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