In James Hilton's Lost Horizon (1933), Rutherford says:

I don't care much for Wyland. I can't stand his type—all that primness and mountainous self-importance. And the complete head-prefectorial mind—did you notice it? Little phrases about 'putting people on their honour' and 'telling tales out of school'—as if the bally empire was the Fifth Form at St Dominic's!

What does "Fifth Form at St Dominic's" mean?

1 Answer 1


In the context of education, a 'form' is a stage, class, or grouping of pupils, mainly in the United Kingdom. Pupils are usually grouped in forms according to age. Pupils join British secondary schools in the autumn after their 11th birthday, so the 5th form would be for pupils aged 16 to 17.

St (Saint) Dominic's School is a fictional boy's boarding school in a book published in 1881. Such schools were notable for their strict rules, and heavy Christian moralising, and by 1933 many people (not all) were inclined to be scornful about them.

The Fifth Form at St. Dominic's (published 1881) is the best known of the school stories by the late nineteenth century author Talbot Baines Reed. The stories as well as the book were written for the Boy's Own Paper and published by the Religious Tract Society, with illustrations by Gordon Browne. It was adapted into the 1921 film of the same name, and serialised for TV in four parts in 1961.

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