Desmond Coke's "The Worst House at Sherborough," is a good example of the English public school genre story. First published in book form in 1913, the year before the outbreak of the Great War. The main arch of the story concerns the various attempts made by Dick Hunter to improve the lackluster performance of Wilson's House. Owing to a reversal of family fortunes, Dick Hunter is faced with the alternative of leaving Sherborough or taking up the post of Head Boy in Wilson's House, usually known as "Weary Willie's" on account of its general slackness. To Hunter, a keen athlete, Captain of the Boats, and hitherto the most popular boy in School House, the idea of helping Wilson's "pull up its socks" is scarcely less repugnant than leaving the school altogether. However, Dick makes up his mind to go through with it. The "Willieites" have no desire to excel at games or anything else. Dick valiantly hammers away at this unpromising material for a long time without result; but at last he succeeds in cultivating enough enthusiasm among the younger boys, which in time leads to sporting glory for Wilson's.
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Desmond Francis Talbot Coke (1879-1931) was a writer of stories for boys who was educated at Shrewsbury School and University College, Oxford. War injuries meant that he was invalided out of active service in 1917 and at the invitation of Lex Devine, the founder of Clayesmore School, joined the staff at his school, which was, by then, located in Iwerne Minster House, Dorset. Among his pupils at the school was Edward Ardizzone (1900-1979), destined to become a well-known book illustrator, who eagerly sought his teacher's opinions on art and the approval of his early work. Desmond Coke wrote under his own name and also used the pseudonym of Belinda Blinders. Viewforth Classics Series. Craig Paterson, PhD, General Editor.
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