Hello everyone and welcome to my tour stop on “The Otherlife” by Julia Gray blog tour. Do you have any Literature “favourites”? I tend to settle on villains when it comes to favourites. Why? Because it is much more difficult to find something to “like” about them. Who knows, maybe I am looking for that spark of good that I believe to live in all of us. And while you are thinking about your own favourites Julia is sharing with a a few of her own.
Julia Gray’s 7 Favourite Tutors in Literature
The world of tutors and tutoring is one of the main landscapes of The Otherlife, and indeed for many children having a tutor is as normal as having a household pet. Some tutors, like Jason and Rebecca in my book, are decent, intelligent people, committed to filling in the gaps in their charges’ education with empathy and grace. Others less so. Here are some of my favourite books containing tutors of all descriptions: good, bad, and ugly.
The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White (1938)
‘“Oh, sir,” said the Wart. “I have been on that quest you said for a tutor, and I have found him.”’ The first book in the tetralogy ‘The Once and Future King’ features Merlyn the wizard, a man with a long white beard and white moustaches (“close inspection showed that he was far from clean”), and an owl named Archimedes. He tutors the young King Arthur, also known as Wart.
Five Go Adventuring Again by Enid Blyton (1943)
I had a large collection of Enid Blyton books as a child – the tales of the Secret Seven, the Malory Towers and St. Clare’s series, and more – and the first book I ever read on my own was one of the Famous Fives. ‘Five Go Adventuring Again’ is second in the series, and features a thoroughly Bad Egg of a tutor, Mr. Roland.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (2015)
“In two years of tutoring I’ve only met Mr. Waterman in person twice,” says Madeline, heroine of this subtly beautiful book, whose rare immunodeficiency means that she is unable to leave the house. Her lessons take place mainly via Skype.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
In Little Women (one of my all-time most-loved books), the tutor in question is John Brooke. Employed to teach the wealthy Laurie, who lives next door to Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, John falls in love with Meg (much to Jo’s horror and fury) and goes on to marry her at the start of ‘Good Wives’.
The Dead Zone by Stephen King (1979)
One of my favourite Stephen King novels, this tells a long and ambitious tale of a man named Johnny, who after a head injury and subsequent coma develops the ability to ‘know’ hidden truths about people and their lives. Achieving unwanted notoriety and unable to continue working as an English teacher, Johnny becomes the tutor of the young man named Chuck. Chuck has real difficulties with reading, and Johnny helps him with dedication and sensitivity – also saving Chuck’s life when he has a premonition that his graduation party is going to be struck by lightning. I recommend James Smythe’s excellent commentary on this book.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992)
This unforgettable novel is also mentioned in my post about my favourite antiheroes; this time the tutor is at University level. Julian Morrow is a fascinating character: enigmatic, inspiring, ultimately cowardly. He tutors a select group of students in Ancient Greek and plays a small but significant part in the tragedy that unfolds on the campus.
The Warden’s Niece by Gillian Avery (1957)
A young girl named Maria runs away from her boarding school to stay with her Great-Uncle, the Warden of Canterbury College in Oxford. When she confesses her desire to one day become a Professor of Greek, she finds herself sharing lessons with three boys; their eccentric tutor is called Reverend Francis Copplestone. As one of the boys explains: “Papa won’t send us to school before we go to Rugby, he says private schools are just expensive nonsense and that we learn far more with a tutor.”