Amazons Toffs?

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Posted by Mike Dennis on August 17, 2007 at 13:04:10 from user MTD.

The thread that developed once again into the argument about the social background of the Amazons raised the point (Peter H I think) that some people have suggested they were 'toffs'. Well if this is taken to mean 'upper class' (which is usually defined as inherited wealth - land and property - passed through numerous generations and or a title) then I don't think they are.
Given what we know about them and that they were based (as were other aspects of other characters) on ARs own life, then it is more likely they were middle-class verging on upper middle class.
Why? Captain Flint is the main give-away, he has no regular gainful employment, he has travelled the world seemingly for his own interest and enjoyment, owns a houseboat permanently moored in the middle of the lake and has free run of his sister’s house. In addition Mrs Blackett runs a large house with paid help; thinks nothing of calling the doctor and even her teenage daughter tells the local policeman off (compare this with the D & Gs relationship with Constable Tedder!). Her husband is clearly dead, but seems to have left her well cared for financially. The odious GA clearly has pretensions of being upper class but it is never actually given away exactly what her background is (is this a finely distorted portrait of AR's first wife?)
As for then the tennis question, certainly it was played at all social levels. In some areas joining the local tennis club was a simple matter of turning up and paying a very small fee and you were in. But in some places the tennis club was not a club where you played tennis, but a social club with strict membership criteria and high fees where you could play tennis. In the same way, for a house to have its own tennis court(s) was quite something. Just in terms of land, it meant ownership of a house of considerable size. Similarly, given the position of Beckfoot on the lake this was no ordinary house; this was house of some importance in the area.
Lastly, the references to the circle that the Blacketts were acquainted with (mainly those that are mentioned in PP & WH). These were not the farm workers and the boat builders who worked long hours for low pay living in rented property that often went with the job.
This is not say their social background is any kind of problem. Yes, in recent times criticism has been aimed at AR’s works (and other writers) for being ‘too middle class’. The irony being that those who do advocate children’s fiction that must be ‘more working class’ and other such pandering. As I have commented in past threads, AR wrote of the world he knew.

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