Rowing Books For Youths 1

The Amalgamated Press in England published for many years weekly and bi-weekly magazines for boys and girls. Between 1922 and 1963, the company published the popular The Schoolgirls’ Own Library (although during Second World War it was temporarily stopped due to paper shortage). In all 1,143 issues of The Schoolgirls’ Own Library were published.

Some of the stories were written by Sheila Austin, which was a pseudonym of Stanley E. Austin (1890-1958). In the “New Series”, published after the war, in August 1956 (No. 240), Austin came out with Freda’s Rowing Ambition at Riverside. This story (64 pp) is about Freda Royston, a new girl at Riverside School and her crew – her “chums” – who manage, after various adventures, to make rowing an official sport at Riverside.

Although, young women began to row at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, in mid-1870s, and Newnham College, Cambridge in England, organized a “boating society” for women in 1893, stories about rowing girls and women were rare during the first half of the 20th century. While you might think that an important milestone as the first official European rowing championships for women, held in 1954, would create an interest in publishing stories about rowing girls, it did not; nor, for that matter, were there a lot of stories published about boys’ rowing.

And while there are tons of youth stories about football (soccer, that is), baseball, basket ball, and other “popular” sports, we are still waiting for stories about rowing girls and boys.

2 comments

  1. Reading this post, I think of Tom Brown at Oxford, the novel by Thomas Hughes, first published in 1861…

  2. “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” (1857) and “Tom Brown at Oxford” (1861) by Thomas Hughes are indeed two well-known rowing novels for boys. An earlier novel, with rowing, is William Taylor Adams’s “The Boat Club” (1854). Adams wrote under the pseudonym Oliver Optic.

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