series is a collection of comic novels of children's literature
. There are about two dozen in total, all written by Anthony Buckeridge. The first, Jenning Goes to School
ISBN 0333655230, appeared in the late 1950s
and new titles were published regularly until the mid-1970s
The stories are set at Linbury Court Preparatory School - a single sex boarding school attended by the eponymous hero, John Christopher Timothy Jennings, his best friend Charles Edwin Jeremy Darbishire and 77 other boys aged from 8 to 14. The school is located in the converted former Elizabethan manor house, Linbury Court, of the fictitious village of Linbury (local market town Dunhambury) near Brighton.
Much of the humour rests on misunderstandings attributable to Jennings' literal-mindedness and impetuosity. In the earliest novels in the series there are some Latin puns, but Buckeridge discontinued these in later books apparently in order to maximise their appeal. Taken as a whole the novels present an idealised version of rural, upper middle class English life in the years between the Second World War and the social revolution of the 1960s.
The major characters are:
- Jennings - son of a business man whose home is at Haywards Heath in the stockbroker belt
- Darbishire - mild mannered and short sighted, the son of a clergyman, the Reverend Percival Darbishire, from whom he has inherited a habit of sententiously citing proverbs.
- Venables, Atkinson, Temple, Bromwich - class mates of Jennings in form 3 and fellow boarders in dormitory 4. Temple's nickname was Bod, from a tortuous schoolboy logic involving his initials, CAT, becoming Dog, then Dogsbody, and finally Bod.
- Pettigrew, Marshall - day pupils whose privileges Jennings borrows in order to assist him in bending school rules
- Binns Minor, Blotwell - shrill voiced first formers who are treated with condescension appropriate to their years by Jennings and his contemporaries
- Mr L. P. Wilkins (Old Wilkie) - Jennings' form master, a man of little patience and a volcanic temperament very occasionally redeemed by a heart of gold
- Mr Michael Carter - Jennings' house master, a man of great imperturbability and patience, with a phenomenal ability to detect dissembling and violations of school rules
- Mr M. W. B. Pemberton-Oakes (The Archbeako) - the headmaster, a classical scholar with a capacity to command immediate discipline
- Matron - the school matron: she is sympathetic and understanding, but with a keen ability to spot malingerers
- Miss Angela Berkinshaw (Aunt Angela) - Jennings' absent minded aunt
The minor characters:
- Hawkins (Old Nightie) - The night watchman
- Robinson (Old Pyjamas) - The odd job man. His nickname is obviously a pun on the nightwatchman's nickname of Old Nightie
- Lieutenant General Sir Melville Merridew DSO MC - Retired general, the school's most distinguished alumnus, and frequent bestower of half-holidays.
- Miss Thorpe - Tireless voluntary charitable worker within the Linbury village community
- PC Honeyball - Linbury's village policeman
- Farmer Arrowsmith - Owner of a farm adjoining the school grounds
- Dr Hipkin - An absent minded zoologist who meets Jennings and Darbishire when they knock him into the river while they are on an illicit boating expedition
- George the Third - Matron's cat, a large ginger tom.
The novels usually followed a format of three major subplots per (sixteen chapter) novel. This practice in turn facilitated a popular BBC radio adaptation.