Novels Set in Schools

shelved under Education

Given the near universal common experience with formal education, schools have a long history as a setting for fiction.  They open fascinating windows into social, emotional and political issues, and provide great opportunities for humor as well.


Good-Bye, Mr. Chips

by James Hilton

Seen through the eyes of fading teacher, this sentimental novel traces a long career at a British boarding school along with the many changes the world experienced during the 20th century. While some aspects of the social order may seem dated, the relationships between teacher and student still remain relevant to today’s world.


The Lords of Discipline

by Pat Conroy

The clever title speaks to not only the discipline of military school, but the discipline young people enforce on themselves to fit in and remain loyal. Set in the south, this novel describes the troubles that emerge when the first black cadet enrolls at the Institute, and provides a parable for the issues roiling the nation during the ‘60s and ‘70s.


The Blackboard Jungle

by Evan Hunter

The author Evan Hunter spent 17 days teaching at a Bronx high school in 1950, which inspired this 1954 novel about education and juvenile delinquents. It raises issues of power and authority in education and society, but also paints a vivid picture of one man’s struggle to adapt to his changing environment.



by Curtis Sittenfeld

While seemingly cliché, the story of a scholarship students attending prep school offers a refreshing take on the difficulty of adolescence. The protagonist is not perfect, and bumping into a variety of stock characters offers her the chance to grow up.


Harry Potter Boxset Books 1-7

by J. K. Rowling

Hogwarts may be the most famous prep school in fiction. Many of Harry and his friends’ adventures are shaped by the teachers and forces at work in this boarding school of magic. Indeed, the school itself is a character to be reckoned with.


Old School

by Tobias Wolff

Set in the '60s, boys in a prep school compete to meet famous authors by writing their own works. It’s an interesting take on issues of youth, but also on literature and writing.