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23 January 2010

Eustace Boylan


Eustace Boylan was born on 9 March 1869 in Dublin, Ireland. At the age of seventeen he entered the Society of Jesus, and due to ill-health was sent to Australia where he taught at Saint Ignatius College (Riverview) and St. Aloysius College, in Sydney, New South Wales. Boylan was a scholastic at Riverview. After an initial period as a novice, a Jesuit would become a scholastic, where they studied philosophy and taught as a school master (Lea-Scarlett 69). He later returned to Ireland, becoming a priest and being appointed editor of the Catholic publication, Messenger. Under his editorship circulation of the paper increased from 75000 readers to 300000 (Austlit). In 1907 he returned to Australia and was appointed Prefect of Studies at Xavier College. The Prefect of Studies looked after all matters relating to classes and studies. He held that position from 1907 to 1917 during an important period in the school’s history. Boylan was one of the longest serving Prefects of Studies. (Dening, Xavier 57) After leaving Xavier, Boylan edited two Catholic publications from 1918 to 1949, Madonna, and Messenger of the Sacred Heart. He was also Rector of St. Patrick’s College, East Melbourne from 1919 to 1921 (Auslit). In 1949 he moved to the Jesuit House at Pymble, New South Wales, and died there on 17 October 1953 (Austlit).

The Heart of the School: An Australian School Story. Melbourne: J. Roy Stevens, Printer and Publisher, 1920. 399 pages. Illustrated Colin Colahan, 4 b/w illus. & numerous small b/w illus. throughout text.

The Heart of the School was the first Australian boys’ school story to be set in a Catholic school, one of only two, the other being "Go It! Brothers!!". The Heart of the School follows the experiences of new boy, Peter Jackson, at Xavier College in Melbourne. The Heart of the School was also the first Australian boys’ school story to be set explicitly in a real school. Peter is ill-prepared for school, having been educated by a series of governesses on his family’s country station property. He is given some school stories to read by his uncle, who also tells him about his own experiences at a great English public school, leaving Peter to fear the worst. When Peter arrives at Xavier, school life is much better than he expected. Peter’s arrival occurs soon after Xavier had joined the GPS sports competitions, but are struggling to win matches against their more experienced rivals. The growth of Xavier as a public school through sport is illustrated. Xavier wins the Football Premiership and ties for the Cricket Championship, marking a new era for the school, which parallels real events Xavier experienced. Boylan celebrates the coming of age for Xavier as a public school on a level with its protestant counterparts. Boylan concludes the story with an epilogue set seven years later in 1918. Peter has returned from the First World War, wounded, and is dying. Father Brownless, the Prefect of Studies from Xavier, is with him when he dies, and his last words are, "dear old school". While other authors sent their schoolboy heroes to war, (see Max the Sport) Boylan alone allows his to die.

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