07 | A Chat With Ysenda Maxtone Graham
Listen to Episode 7: A Chat With Ysenda Maxtone Graham
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In this episode, I'm interviewing the writer Ysenda Maxtone Graham on her recently published book, Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding Schools, 1939-1979. I read this book after being invited to Ysenda's book launch at Daunt Books, and once I started it, I couldn't stop reading! An Old Boarding School Girl herself, Ysenda has written a fascinating account of what British boarding schools were really like from the 30s-70s. In researching the book, Ysenda interviewed a great deal of women, some of them famous (I was especially interested in Judith Kerr's anecdotes), some of them not, but all of them offering an engrossing glimpse into a bygone age.
Many of the stories of the girls' lives at the eccentric establishments Ysenda describes will appall the modern reader, but Terms & Conditions is written with so much quiet humour, that it's almost impossible not to chuckle your way through the book. I had a marvellous time interviewing Ysenda about her writing process and inspiration behind her latest publication, and I'm sure you'll love listening to her too!
- 00:35 - Miranda introduces Ysenda Maxtone Graham.
- 01:42 - Ysenda describes her background and how she first started her career in journalism.
- 03:57 - The inspiration behind Terms & Conditions.
- 05:39 - Ysenda reads aloud a passage from her book.
- 08:10 - Miranda and Ysenda discuss how Terms & Conditions gave a voice to the women whose opinions regarding their own education, at least as young girls, hadn't been given a great deal of value (fathers generally dictated which schools they were sent to, and their letters home were censored by staff).
- 10:18 - How Ysenda organised the numerous anecdotes she received and set about structuring her book.
- 12:25 - Ysenda reflects on how her own education background contributed to making her the person she is today.
- 15:41 - The stories of boarding school life that most surprised Ysenda when she heard them.
- 18:38 - The valuable lessons that can still be learnt from this lost world of education.
- 21:37 - Ysenda hints at the upcoming project in which she's currently engaged.
- Terms & Conditions.
- Slightly Foxed.
- Angela Brazil.
- Mrs Miniver.
- The Real Mrs Miniver.
- Ysenda's article on Angela Brazil is in the Slightly Foxed Issue No. 44, Winter 2014.
- Chalet School series by Elinor M Brent-Dyer.
- Mr Tibbits's Catholic School.
- Ysenda's Spectator articles.
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I can tell from her posture, and her calves, whether she was good or bad at games.
- Ysenda Maxtone Graham
Thank you so much for listening and being a part of Tea & Tattle podcast. As always, we love to hear your thoughts, so please let us know:
What did you enjoy most about this episode? Have you read any of Ysenda's books, or are you tempted to now? Do you have any memories of Boarding School to share?
Sophie and I are hosting a special Christmas episode, sharing our favourite festive traditions and reading aloud passages from our most-loved Christmas reads. Be sure to listen along with a mince pie to hand!