Saturday, 27 March 2010

In and out of books

I like tangents, book ephemera and social history - I think that's why reading children's fiction of the 1930s onwards really appeals to me. I want to know about tuck boxes, attache cases and changing shoes and hats in seasons and buildings. An interesting little newspaper cutting today told me about a range of tuck boxes available to order. Now, my impression from reading rather too many school stories was that either a loving family cook put together a fabulous strongbox of treats, or (if your mother were rich and indulgent) you had the pleasure of stockpiling a term's provisions from Fortnum's food hall. I don't know how some of you feel about the selfish glamour-girl mother in Saplings (Noel Streatfeild), but she does do treats with style. Anyway, this short advertisement gave three tuck box models. The gold-standard (20s) includes tinned pineapple, two types of cake and two varieties of biscuits along with 'glasses' of preserved meat. Very Blyton. The only thing missing is the name of the company. It just tells me that 'carriage' is paid, so I expect your box would have arrived safely at school along with your trunk for the start of term. Assuming anyone else does read this, do you have any experience or knowledge of tuck boxes and their contents? I don't think I could have kept a frog in mind, but Roald Dahl's schoolmates did have other priorities.


  1. I was just reading about Roald Dahl's tuck box! :D What an interesting coincidence. And I find it fascinating that you could get pre-made tuck boxes; I'm assuming they were rather small, like lunchboxes almost? Roald Dahl's book left me with the impression that tuck boxes were somewhat large, almost like a suitcase or something. But maybe they were actually small, and I'm just confused?

    Anyway, some of my favorite books are ones in 1930's-1950's children's stories, especially boarding school ones, and so I'm definitely following your blog now because I don't know too many other people who like those books as well, lol.

    (One of the worst things is to read about all the great picnics those kids got, with mountains of delicious-sounding food in the picnic box. All I want right now is a sandwich wrapped in wax paper, truly...)

  2. Tuck boxes (thank you John Lewis) are indeed very large. Even today they sell 17 types. Small trunk:

    Personally, I'd like to have the fun of filling my own tuck box.

  3. 20d? Surely not, even then ...more like 20s?