Back to School and Off to College – a Literary Quiz

Compiled by Annabel

As we begin the new academic year, what better time to test your knowledge of campus and school novels. We hope you find some old friends among the questions, but there are some trickier ones to test you too. I make no apologies for the short Harry Potter section at the end – Hogwarts demanded to be included!

There are no prizes other than your own degree of satisfaction, so the answers can be found at the bottom of the post – they can only be read when highlighted by your cursor to encourage you not to cheat.

We’d love it if you could tell us your favourite campus or school novel in the comments, (and tell us how you did too!).


Section 1 – Campus Novels

1. What is the name of David Lodge’s university that features in his three campus novels, Changing Places, Small World and Nice Work?
2. Played by Michael Douglas in the film (right), in which second novel by whom, does Professor Grady Tripp appear?
3. What subject does Jim Dixon teach in Kingsley Amis’ 1954 comic novel Lucky Jim?
4. Whose novel, longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, includes a section set during the Columbia university students’ rebellion in the 1960s? What is the book’s title?
5. Which novel by whom set at Hampden College in rural Vermont begins thus:

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.”

6. What was the name of the head porter in Tom Sharpe’s wonderful Porterhouse Blue? Who played him in the 1987 TV series?
7. Which 750+ page American novel tells of its title character’s first semester and a half at the prestigious Dupont Academy?
8. In which 1975 novel by whom, later televised by the BBC, do we meet sociology professor Howard Kirk?
9. As played by Jack Whitehall in the recent TV adaptation, who is sent down from Oxford for running through the grounds of Scone College without his trousers? What was the novel and who wrote it?
10. By the same author as question 9, which two characters first meet in a memorable scene when one throws up through the other one’s window which opens onto a college quad?


Section 2 – Schooldays

1. In which novel by whom does Hailsham appear? A boarding school in which teachers are known as Guardians who have a fixation on getting the pupils to do art.
2. Which prep school does Nigel Molesworth attend in the wonderful Molesworth books by Geoffrey Willans, illustrated by Ronald Searle (see right)?
3. New England is a popular location for American boarding schools. In the second Katy book, What Katy Did at School, our heroine is sent to one in Vermont. Who created these books?
4. Who wrote the novel Old School in which a pupil is repeatedly disappointed when authors who come to visit the school fail to meet his expectation?
5. In which 2010 novel by whom does a 14yr old expire at an expensive Catholic boarding school in Dublin?
6. In the opening chapters of which 1951 novel set in a boarding school modelled on Eton, do we first meet the character of Kenneth Widmerpool, and who wrote it?
7. Different Class by Joanne Harris is a thriller set in a northern grammar school; the same school as a previous title by her. What is the name of the school and was that earlier novel called?
8. Who are Sandy, Rose, Mary, Jenny, Monica, and Eunice in Muriel Spark’s 1961 novel?
9. Who wrote over sixty novels between 1925 and 1970 set in the Chalet School?
10. Venables, Atkinson, Temple, and Bromwich (Major) are pals of which schoolboy at Linbury Court in a popular series which started in 1950. Who wrote these books?


Section 3 – Harry Potter

Source: Wikipedia

1. What is the name of caretaker Argus Filch’s cat?
2. Can you name the two visiting schools that compete in the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?
3. Which subjects do the following professors at Hogwarts teach? A) Madame Hooch b) Professor Flitwick c) Professor Sprout d) Severus Snape
4. The motto of Hogwarts is ‘Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus’. What is its English Translation?
5. Which character is known as Tom Elvis Jedusor in the French editions of HP?
6. Who are The Bloody Baron, The Fat Friar, The Grey Lady and Nearly Headless Nick?


Highlight to view, score one point per piece of info requested – Total 45 points:  
Section 1 – On Campus
1. Rummidge (modelled on Birmingham). 2. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon  3. (Medieval) History 4. Paul Auster in 4 3 2 1  5. The Secret History by Donna Tartt  6. Skullion memorably played by David Jason.  7. I am Charlotte Simmonds by Tom Wolfe  8. The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury  9. Paul Pennyfeather in Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh   10. Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited. (20 points)
Section 2 – Boarding School
1. Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguru   2. St Custards   3. Susan Coolidge   4. Tobias Woolf   5. Skippy Dies by Paul Murray   6. A Question of Upbringing by Anthony Powell (Vol I of his Dance to the Music of Time sequence)   7. St. Oswalds,  Gentlemen and Players   8. The Brodie Set – the six girls being taught by Miss Jean Brodie   9. Elinor Brent-Dyer
10. J. C. T. (John Christopher Timothy) Jennings in the books by Anthony Buckeridge (15 points)
Section 3 – Harry Potter
1. Mrs Norris   2. BeauxBatons Academy and the Durmstrang Institute.   3. A) Flying b) Charms c) Herbology d) Potions   4. Never tickle a sleeping dragon.   5. Tom Marvolo Riddle (which is an anagram of I am Lord Voldemort, sim in French for Je suis Voldemort).   6. They are the House ghosts (Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Gryffindor respectively). (10 points) End of Answers


Annabel is one of the editors of Shiny New Books. Her favourite campus novels are Porterhouse Blue, and Straight Man by Richard Russo


2 thoughts on “Back to School and Off to College – a Literary Quiz

  1. I am *so* rubbish at that sort of quiz! I was personally always obsessed by boarding school stories, particularly Blyton – St. Clare’s was ok, but Malory Towers was my favourite! :)))

  2. Oh dear I failed so miserably at this I am too red-faced to admit to my score.
    Favourite school stories? I loved The Naughtiest Girl series by Enid Blyton but also had a strong attachment to Mallory Towers like Karen

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