How Nell Scored

How's that for a title? Settle down, it's not what you think. How Nell Scored is in fact an old-fashioned adventure story, set in New Zealand, involving a shipwreck, stolen pearls, and a cross-country trek by the eponymous young heroine (who is forced to hide up a tree at one point, though probably less gracefully than depicted on the cover).

I think this book was first published in 1933, and it certainly shows its age -- the two sons of the family are both away at school, being educated, while the two daughters stay at home to help on the farm. Not fair, or even particularly logical, since the boys will presumably inherit the farm eventually. The book opens with Nell exhorting her sister not to cry in front of their parents, and shaking her vigorously to drive her point home.

Bessie Marchant was an insanely prolific English author who produced dozens of books like this, often set in exotic locations: Ceylon, Sudan, Uruguay, Canada. She married a clergyman with the gorgeous name of Jabez Ambrose Comfort -- maybe it was the name that appealed, because he was 28 years older than her. It's easy to mock Marchant's output and her far-flung settings (she doesn't seem to have ever visited any of the places she wrote about) but she did challenge the gender sterotypes of her time by putting young girls in the middle of the kinds of adventures that usually featured boys. So good on you, Bessie.


  1. I used to have a little collection of children's books with dodgy titles of the "Sally Pulls It Off" variety, but must have got rid of them in one of my purges. Innocent times! I also had a handful of Jane Shaw's "Susan" books - I couldn't resist "Susan Rushes In" and "Susan Interferes"!

  2. I had "Susan Interferes"as well! I wonder if I still have it... What a fantastic collection to have, now I'm dying to know what the other titles were :)

  3. I so enjoyed your post - thank you. I am trying to put together a complete bibliography for Bessie and I wondered if you could tell me where you got the date of 1933 for first publication of How Nell Scored, and how sure you are about this. I've seen it given as 1929 in other sources, but they are not too credible.

  4. Hi Jessica,
    Oh goodness, it was two years ago and I can't quite remember where I found that date - I suspect it was Wikipedia, though I see it says 1929 now. So the short answer is I am not at all confident of that date, and I don't have any special sources. I hope you have more luck with your own researches! Marchant was certainly very prolific, there is a lot to track down.
    All the best, Kate