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I recently acquired an old novel by Peter Ling, based on the now defunct Eagle comic.

Entitled, The Three Js and the Pride of Northbrook, it followed the adventures of three boys whose first names all began with J, and who attended an English private school called Northbrook. I remember these from the original comic, which I read as a boy in the 1950s, but am a little confused on one point. I always remembered Northbrook as a boarding school (the usual setting for school-based stories in that era) but in the novel it is described as a day school (though the boys' parents play so small a role that they might as well have been boarders).

Can anyone of my vintage help me out? Is my memory going, or was Northbrook changed to a day school in order (presumably) to attract a wider readership?

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I read The Eagle but I'm afraid I have only the dimmest memory of The Three J's. I certainly don't remember whether they were boarders or not.

According to The Eagle Society, Northbrook School was 'a setting broadly based on Whitgift School', the school Peter Ling had attended, in Haling Park, South Croydon. Wikipedia says of Whitgift School:

Originally a day school, boarding was introduced in 1992.

Might you be mis-remembering? Some schools had a mixture of boarders and day boys of course. Is that a possibility?

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  • I certainly could be misremebering. I recently watched an old Twilight Zone episode and found that its ending differed in significant ways from what I thought was a crystal clear memory. OTOH, in general my memory is pretty good. It has been quite intriguing to go onto Talking Pictures and watch 60-year-old programmes about the exploits of Sir Francis Drake, Robin Hood, Sir Lancelot and William Tell, all of which I had enjoyed as a kid. It was amazing to discover how much I still did remember. So I'm still wondering. But thanks just he same. – Mike Stone Oct 14 '20 at 15:29
  • I also had a bit of a problem with at least one incident, where all three boys managed to sneak out of their homes for a midnight rendezvous – without any of the parents ever noticing. Perhaps I lack imagination, but to me it sounded more like a boarding school story – with the young heroes sneaking out of the dormitory together – which had been somewhat clumsily adapted to a day boy context. So I still wonder if my suspicion could be right and will keep an eye open for any further responses. Still, thanks for your contribution – Mike Stone Oct 14 '20 at 15:30
  • @MikeStone I was surprised not to be able to find any scans of the comic online. I'm enjoying Talking Pictures too. I've been surprised at how much more relaxed the actors seem in films from the 30's than those from the late 40's and the 50's. The men and women actually seem happy working together. Where did that ghastly stiffness come from a few years later? I hope you find Dormeo's telling us to "lay back" as annoying as I do! – Old Brixtonian Oct 14 '20 at 15:44
  • @MikeStone We used to do that though. Well - usually we'd been allowed to sleep over at one kid's house and would all sneak out from there. But yes - more exciting if they're on school premises. I wonder how long Bunty kept going. As I recall it was all boarding schools! Can't have been very interesting to read if you were at a comprehensive. – Old Brixtonian Oct 14 '20 at 15:48
  • Old Brixtonian. The novel was published in 1957, when comprehensives were still relatively few. We didn't really go comprehensive until the 60s and 70s, by which time Eagle was dying. Up till then most State-educated kids don't seem to have had a problem with stories set in public schools. - as George Orwell noted with irritation. Personally I loved Jennings and Billy Bunter, though I would fight tooth and nail (and on the whole successfully) against even staying for school dinners, never mind overnight, But by 1970 that genre had pretty much died the death. – Mike Stone Oct 14 '20 at 21:21

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