With A04_Schooldays at the Abbey, published by Collins in 1938, we begin the cluster of nine books known as the “Retrospective Titles.” They fall after A03_Girls of the Abbey School (1921) and the order resumes again in publication time with A11_The Abbey Girls Go Back to School (1922). The nine retrospective titles were published between 1938 and 1957, three years before Oxenham’s death. They feature younger girls [Read more…]
A03_The Girls of the Abbey School introduces the important character of Janet (Jen) Robins, who will go on to become one of the strongest exemplars of the “Abbey spirit” of helpfulness and good will. Published in 1921, a year after Oxenham attended the 1920 Vacation School where presumably she discovered, as the Abbey Girls themselves will soon, how wrongly she had been dancing, the book contains a lot of dancing. It is dedicated “To those members of the English Folk Dance Society [Read more…]
After A01_Girls of the Hamlet Club, Elsie Oxenham published eight books, many dealing with the Camp Fire movement, before returning to Miss Macey’s school and establishing the true beginning of the story of the girls who live in the Abbey of Gracedieu. A02_The Abbey Girls was published in 1920 but is set two years after Cicely’s story, running from February through May 1916 in “Abbey Time.” There is no mention of the War.
Elsie J. Oxenham’s fictional universe is a large and complicated one, and in the Abbey Girls’ world time moves slowly. Oxenham wrote more than 87 novels and numerous short stories, and she had multiple publishers. While there are some stand-alone novels, she tended to write series novels [Read more…]
Elsie J. Oxenham’s ninth book, published in October of 1914, is the “origins” story of the Abbey Girls series, and is one of the books that contains the most folk dancing, culminating in a lengthy description of a performance of folk dance and song to honor the first-crowned May Queen of the series. If you are a folk dancer [Read more…]
Flowers, May Queens, pretty girls in brightly-colored, loosely-swinging frocks dancing English folk dances on the green garth of an old Abbey, friendship, babies, and spirituality—this is the world of Elsie J. Oxenham’s Abbey Girl books, published between 1914 and 1959. [Read more…]