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Steve Savage Publishers Ltd
CoverCrème de la Crème

Girls' Schools of Edinburgh

Alasdair Roberts
sample extract...

Girls' schools did not always have magazines, and in fact St George's was unusual in bringing out its Chronicle within six years of the start. It was a relaxed, social affair: an article on how to ride a bicycle set the tone. The idea of a 'chronicle' which recorded events was widely adopted in the titles of school magazines, but the Edinburgh Ladies' College in Queen Street went its own way with the Merchant Maiden, started in 1906 'partly to maintain links between Former Pupils and between them and the School.' The George Square Chronicle followed two years later, with headmistress Charlotte Ainslie setting the agenda: 'History speaks to us not only in the textbooks of the classrooms, but in the sober and dignified houses which we see from our windows, and which will be famous to all time because they have sheltered such honoured heads. Imagination might perhaps conjure up an old world figure, resolute and alert, listening with interest to history lessons dealing with naval victories and silently approving the growth of pious and patriotic sentiment among the present occupants of his home.' The reference is to Admiral Duncan, victor of Camperdown in 1797, who came home from sea to live in Melville House.

School magazines can be directed mainly to pupils or else to former ones. The first Canaan Park College magazine came out in April 1909, when all the Old Girls were young and very few were married. The editor struck a note of nostalgia: 'After all, if we were permitted only a bare list of events we should still be glad of this little record. Such a list kindles for us again pleasures that were bright at the time. It sends a light through our memories, illumining the corners where sleep the pleasant records of old delights; it makes us grateful for the past.' There were two issues a year. The November 1910 number has also survived to confirm that although school news came first, reviving memory, it was followed by a much longer section on former pupil concerns. Contributions on a range of topics came in from old girls without difficulty: 'Some Castles on the Loire' ran to two issues.

Former pupils came first more often than not. The Brunstane Club produced two booklets for the ladies who had gone to school from addresses in Joppa and Portobello. In each of them only one page out of sixteen touched on current school affairs. The booklets were headed Forward -- Remembering. Shortly after the move to 'Cranley' in Colinton Road, The Torch (which was also for adults) started to appear annually, and it was not until 1966 that a magazine for both pupils and former pupils was produced in school under the title FEHOMI. (As readers may remember, this came from the initial letters of Virgil's Latin: Forsan et haec olim memenisse iuvabit.) The first issue was mainly for former pupils -- to the extent of the first two-thirds of a fifty-page magazine. However when the final FEHOMI appeared in 1980 it was truly the 'Cranley School Magazine' of the cover, without any news of Old Girls. A newsletter was promised them.