Abbey Girls Again, 1924 and 1961

The first edition has dark blue boards and a coloured frontis by Elsie Anna Wood showing the girls in the garden, captioned ” You ought to have a private secretary!” There are two other (monochrome) plates, one of the Pixie’s party where Mary-Dorothy first dances, the other of Joy chasing Jen after the ‘biscuits in beds’ incident. This edition has 3I6 pages.

The CP edition front cover shows three girls sitting on a bed with a tray of food and drink – presumably intended as  Ros, Maidie  and  Biddy’s  midnight  feast.  In style this illustration resembles Frank Varty’s illustrations for the Retrospective  titles. The spine shows a girl and some crossed golf clubs, though anyone attempting to dance the Bacca Pipes jig in such attire, and holding her skirt in such an affected way would have made ‘Madam’ physically ill! There are no internal illustrations, and the book contains 124 pages.

Chapter I – Off to the Pictures

A few language changes: omitting “old thing” and “old girl”. Biddy’s friend no longer says “I consider shorthand positively wicked” which is just as well as I understand “wicked” is now a term of approval. The three brothers between Mary and Biddy are now abroad rather than lost in the war. No mention of Biddy having been to a better school so that she should have higher ideals. Biddy’s struggle with her conscience is shortened and Mary and Biddy’s family background is not explained. Biddy’s envy of Jen is omitted. No details about Jen’s father’s manuscript, Yorkshire dialect or place names. Mary’s self analysis is cut too and no details are given of her inner dream world.

Chapter II – The Mary and Dorothy

Jen comes on her own – no mention of Frost or her mother’s fears.  Nothing about the views of churches on dancing (probably too old fashioned to be left in). Jen’s explanation of folk dancing is condensed, no mention of her village kiddies or shop girls and clerks. Her plans for the demonstration are shortened, no Madam and certainly no mention of Jack being her husband! Only two dances named:  the Helston Furry and The Mary and Dorothy. No emphasis on the effect of this new interest on Mary.

Chapter III – The Fairy Godmothers

Mary no longer asks “Was it Charlie (Chaplin) again?” at the cinema. Biddy’s comments on the demonstration programme are cut. Only Gathering Peascods mentioned by name. Biddy dances round the table in CP version. In AGA she does a Bampton Hey. Joy answers the door at Jen’s parents’ flat – no mention of the “girl” (maid). Joy’s boots and bonnet for motoring become changing her dress. Reference to Jack as Jen’s oldest friend deleted. No name for Joy’s car, no details of the route taken with the crippled children. Jen ‘s early dealings with Mary summarised in CP. No details about Jen ‘s pipe. Joan’s request for her “gymmy and shoes” cut.

Chapter IV – Trouble with Biddy

Very few noteworthy changes in this chapter: it is simply condensed but sticks to the AGA storyline. No reference to Biddy putting on make-up, powder puff would have been old-fashioned anyway.

Chapter V – Mary Dorothy hears the Pipes of Pan

Motoring coats become tweed coats, motoring hood becomes hat. No names given for the tunes Jen pipes or for the dances mentioned by Joy in AGA. This time the reference to gym things and tunics is left in but the story about the Pixie “going home in her legs” is omitted. Mary mentions Biddy’s make-up in both versions but AGA has “paint and powder”, CP has “cosmetics”. Jen and Joy name some of the dances which Biddy might learn. No mention of Biddy thinking of dancing as childish or of Cheltenham or Chelsea. Joy’s scorn for Mary’s inability to manage Biddy as she does Ros and Maidlin is omitted. There is generally less analysis in CP version. This could just be to shorten the text or perhaps to make it more suitable for younger readers.

Chapter VI – The Return of the President

All reference to Jen’ s accident cut. No “husband Jacky-boy”, no elementary or advanced class. No “topping” or “frightfully alike”. All Mary’s thoughts about her new friends cut. Difficult points in the dances are detailed in AGA but shortened in CP. Reference to events in Jen of the Abbey School cut in CP. No description of Cicely in CP and the excited greetings are condensed.

Chapter VII – Old Married Ladies

Some language changes: “Brown knitted coat” becomes jacket. The Writing Person no longer calls her typing a “stunt of seventy or eighty thousand words”. The WP’s explanations are shortened and there is no reference to “burglars”. Jen’s account of the May Queen ceremony and of Joy’s adoption of Ros and Maidlin is cut. Jen’s attempt to convert Mary to dancing is shortened.

Chapter VIII – The Fright of Her Life

Few significant changes, just general condensation . Biddy’s party wasn’t nice, no mention of “rough games”. Vivien’s preferring a white to a coloured frock is out – mourning for youngsters would have gone by the date of CP.

Chapter IX -A Large and Noisy Crowd

Jen’s reaction to Mary’s grey dress is cut. In AGA Jen talks about the Pixie’s war work – omitted in CP. Mention of Joan and Cicely’s “old men” omitted. Joy’s car named in both this time. The Pixie has no “burglar girl”, no teasing of the newly married Joan and Cicely, no comments on Mary Dorothy’s name, no watching and summing her up.

Chapter X – The Pixie’s Party

Jen and Mary do not discuss Biddy’s frock in CP. No mention of Biddy’s plimsolls or of Biddy’ s boy friends at college. No reference to the “poor schools in East Ham, Canning Town or Barking”. The descriptions of the children’s dancing,  of  the Pixie’s movements and of Mary’ s first attempt at a dance are condensed. The sliding and the final Sellenger’s Round are omitted.

Chapter XI – Mary-Dorothy’s Way

Mary’s thoughts about the dance party and about whether she could learn to dance are condensed. Both versions have her worrying about her escape into dreams but CP is much shorter.

Chapter XII – Dancing for Jenny-Wren

Jacky-boy is only “my first chum at school” and not “my hubby”. References to named dances cut and Mary’ s conversation with the Writing Person is given in less detail. In both, Mary is described as watching the dancing with sombre eyes but this seems odd in CP version which has omitted her thoughts about the contrast between the “healthy” dancing and her unhealthy dream life. Joy’s invitation is dealt with more quickly in CP.

Chapter XIII – Mary-Dorothy’s Gym Tunic

There are few changes in this chapter. Biddy does not call Mary “old girl” and Jen’s plans for sword dances are omitted. No mention of plimsolls (I wonder when we changed to calling them gym shoes?) No comparison of Jen to an O-Cedar Mop or to a chrysanthemum! No mention of Mary’ s neat ankles or of Biddy’ s sturdy build. Shorter description in CP of the effect of this new interest on both Mary and Biddy.

Chapter XIV – Over the Hills and Far Away

In CP Jen does not call Joy “old chap”.  No details of Joy’s trip with the “poor little kids’. Less detail from Joy about Ros and Maidlin being good for Biddy. No reference to them being more like the girls she knew at school, talk about Jen and Joy’ s reasons for helping others omitted, so is “early brekker”. No description of Ros and Maidie’s clothes, and Ros does not talk about Biddy’s commercial course or say that she intends to take one too. References to Joy and Maidie’s earlier dealings are left out. Description of the beech woods omitted. Jen throws off her fur coat in both but discards her motoring cap in AGA while “motoring” is omitted in CP.

Chapter XV – The Abbey and the Hall

In CP the Hall is not “absolutely topping”. There are few changes in this chapter, just slightly less detail about the Abbey and its stories. Outdated slang (“rippingly”,  “frightfully sold”) and references to the Colonies, to Cook and to Annie are removed. In CP the chapter ends with the apple pie bed for Joy and in AGA it ends with tennis.

Chapter XVI – Making Biddy Feel at Home

Jen’s comments on Joy’ s music omitted in CP. “Topping crowd” becomes “Super crowd”. Biddy’s comment that getting to know Joy and Jen may be a jolly good thing for them and Mary’s indignation at this way of looking at it are completely omitted. So too are all Biddy’s thoughts about Ros’s and Maidie’s prospects. Same fun and games over the beds in both AGA and CP, though Maidlin’s inability to join in is left out in CP version. In AGA the chapter ends with Joy keeping Ros back.

Chapter XVII – Joy disappoints the President

In AGA the next chapter begins with Joy telling Ros to keep quiet about Maidie’s fortune. CP starts with Jen’s plans for developing Mary’s gift for writing (also covered in AGA ). Jen teaches Bacca Pipes jig in both but in AGA she talks of seeing Madam dance it. Jen’ s comments on Mary and Biddy’s dancing (Mary stiff and Biddy careless) are left out in CP. ln CP Jen’s explanation that she must go up to town is much shorter and there is no mention of Joy’s trips with the crippled children. When Jen does more teaching at the weekend, Mrs. Shirley does not join in (something which always seemed very unlikely to me!) and Rufty Tufty is the only dance mentioned. The arrival of a motorbike and sidecar reminds Jen of Cheltenham in AGA. Joy explains her plans for a girls’ hostel and a children’s home and Cicely says it is a shock to find Joy thinking of anyone other than herself. CP has no criticism of Joy, just surprise.

Chapter XVIII – The Hamlet Club

Jen pipes Laudnum Bunches in both CP and AGA but in AGA she also lists the other tunes she can play and explains why she cannot manage Trunkles. Joy tells the story of the Hamlet Club in both but omits Cheltenham, the Pixie and Madam in  CP. There is no reference to needing a white cap to dance as a woman in CP. CP and AGA have Jack’s father’s illness but only AGA has Joy’s hope that Jack will leave the Army so that Joan will be settled nearby. AGA has descriptions of all the main characters’ dance frocks and Joy reminds Jen about dancing in the Abbey (Girls of the Abbey School). In CP Joy only talks about Andrew Marchwood catching her dancing Bacca Pipes in the road. In AGA she also mentions his calling during a Hamlet Club meeting and his rescuing them when the torch failed in the crypt (New Abbey Girls).

Chapter XIX – Mary-Dorothy’s Confession

In AGA Joy and Jen remember the moonlight dance in the Abbey. In both AGA and CP Mary explains how she showed her writing to her father but in AGA he is leaving for the Front (1st World War) and in CP he is going to China. In CP Mary’ s secret life and its effect on her are described more briefly and the changes brought about by Jen and Joy are made rather less dramatic (no reference to it being like drink and drugs). AGA finishes with Joy telling Mary that she has noticed that Biddy who started thinking only of herself, is now planning how to help Maidie, although she still believes Maidlin is only the caretaker’s poor niece. CP only comments on the growing friendship between all three girls.

Chapter XX – Joy’s Heiress

A short chapter with little difference between the two books. In AGA Biddy’s note says “Dear Mary” rather than “Dear Old Thing”, Joy goes into more detail about the dangers of Mary’s dreaming and she tells Mary Maidlin’s story before the screams are heard.

Chapter XXI – The Pond Next Door

Since  this  chapter  is  mainly  action  both  versions  are  almost  identical.  CP  omits Andrew’s verdict on Mary: “Nervy.  No  use.  Going  all  to  pieces.”  and  also  his recognition of Jen: “the blue girl who dances jigs”. In AGA Biddy hears him say that Maid is Joy’s Italian heiress.

Chapter XXII – Maidlin’s Private Secretary

CP omits Joy’s words to Rosamund about her responsibility for what had happened. Joy’s discussion with Mary is briefer in CP. Psychological analysis is usually simplified or omitted in CP and references to earlier books are omitted wherever possible so there is no mention of Joy growing up as a result of knowing that she was responsible for Jen’s accident (Abbey Girls Go Back to School).

Chapter XXID – Holding the Rope

This chapter is much briefer in CP (3 pages not 13). The visit to the Pixie’s shop is covered with far less detail; her analysis of Mary’s problem is shortened and her advice is reduced to the barest essentials. Joy does not mention having Mary as matron of her girls’ hostel.

Chapter XXIV – Mary Dorothy Makes the Plunge

CP omits the change in Biddy: no longer interested in going to the pictures with Doris and eager to work at shorthand. Jen’ s appeal to Mary, her response and the taking of the class follow the same lines but are less detailed in CP.

Chapter XXV – Mary Dorothy’s Promise

As usual CP version is shorter and outdated slang is changed:  “simply  topping” becomes “simply great”. The plans for Mary’s children’ s class and for her to have another go at writing are condensed but both books end with Mary’s promise to dedicate her first book “To my Fairy Godmother Jen” .

Audrey Morris