Sally Dore wrote:

What strikes me reading Eva's notes on DFB, and contrasting
them with the other authors so far mentioned, Haverfield and LMM particularly as well as some of the various American ones covered by Christine, is that DFB uses illness in
many of the *plot-progressing* ways outlined by Dorian, but unlike the
others, she seems not to use illnesses in the other way of varying the
emotional tone, tugging heart-strings, as the others do. There are no
bedside crises.

The character building is more on the side of the characters who must take on responsibility because of somebody else's absence - not only illness or accidents - like Daphne gaining a new confidence in herself. Or, showing up as incompetent for responsibility. DFB is more interested than EBD in the building of plots based on the interaction of leadership and friendship inside the school community and illness is only one of the devices she uses for creating such situations. Peggy's situation in New House Captain is similar to that of Daphne even if Diana is physically well and present.

If EBD etc have *more* illness in their books than real-life would have indicated at the
time, surely DFB has *less* than would be representative of the times. And
she doesn't even seem to use them as a way of illustrating character,
indicating stoicism etc. Why?

I have no real theory why. Her mother was an invalid for many years, so she had experience of illness, but perhaps she thought she had enough of if in RL? DFB seems to have used different aspects of illness and accidents when they suited her plots. The epidemic is an important plot device in New House Captain. Being somewhat delicate is part of the characterisation of Nicola Carter, which is used again as an important plot device in Captain Anne. But she's doing her best to ignore her delicacy. (I must confess this method suits me better, who grew up as a badly delicate child and never liked reading much about illness <g>)

As I suggested, DFB is less Victorian than EBD in many aspects, though EBD shows rather modern attitudes in some politic issues. But I think the idfference is mainly due to DFB's basic interest in the interaction of characters and plot.

Eva Margareta

(suffering from an ordinary banal cold)

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