It’s rare for me to read a non-fiction book straight through from cover to cover. I’ve just done it with True to the Trefoil A celebration of fictional Girl Guides, edited by Tig Thomas and published by Girls Gone By Publishers. The heyday of the guide story was in the 1920s/30s and the book covers just about every aspect: brief history of guiding; outline of the development of the guide story; chapters devoted to individual authors. It’s been extremely well edited by Tig Thomas and everything she’s written for the book is very good, as you’d expect.
Of course there’s an overlap with girls’ school stories of the same period as many fictional schools like The Chalet School had their own companies (EBD gets a chapter). It’s interesting that many authors pointed out a difference between ‘Guide’s honour’ and ‘schoolgirl honour’. My favourite guiding author is Catherine Christian and I’m very fond of Cicely Bassett Patrol Leader by Winifred Darch, one of my favourite authors of school stories. In the days when most girls left school at fourteen, not all guides were schoolgirls. These poorer girls are well represented in guiding fiction, especially in the books by Mrs A C Osborn Hann, who lived and worked in the East End of London with her clergyman husband. Her ‘Peg’ series is based on real people and illustrated with photographs of girls from her own company.
I remember the golden jubilee in 1960! We went to a rally at Hampton Court, then sailed down the Thames past the Chief Guide, Lady Olave Baden-Powell. I was sure she smiled right at me. This book is a lovely way to celebrate the Girl Guide Centenary this year. It’s well put together, well illustrated and has just one chapter which I personally consider irrelevant and would have omitted. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read all the guiding fiction I’ve picked up over the years. I like to have the books and now feel inspired to read some more of them.