Goodbye, Mr. Chips

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Goodbye, Mr. Chips (originally Good-bye, Mr. Chips) is a novel by James Hilton. The story had originally been issued as a supplement to the British Weekly, an evangelical newspaper, in 1933 but came to prominence when it was reprinted as the lead piece of the April 1934 issue of The Atlantic. The success of the Atlantic Monthly publication prompted a book deal between Mr. Hilton and Little, Brown and Company. Little, Brown published the first printing of this story in book form in June 1934. The depression was a factor for most publishing houses and Little Brown was no exception; they carefully released a small first printing. Public demand for more was immediate, and Little Brown went into an almost immediate reprinting the same month. The demand continued and Little Brown continued to reprint the book for many months with at least two reprintings per month. The first printing of the British edition was in October 1934. This edition was published by Hodder and Stoughton who had the benefit of observing the success of Little Brown and released a larger first printing. Even with this benefit, Hodder and Stoughton found themselves going into reprints as the public's demand for the book was enormous. After the huge success of this book, James Hilton became a bestselling author,[1] numerous adaptations were made including two films, two television versions and various stage adaptations.


Plot summary

The novel tells the story of a much-beloved schoolteacher and his long tenure at Brookfield, a fictional boys' public boarding school. Mr. Chipping conquers his inability to connect with his students, as well as his initial shyness, when he marries Katherine, a young woman whom he meets on holiday and who quickly picks up on calling him by his nickname, "Chips". Despite his own mediocre academic record, he goes on to have an illustrious career as an inspiring educator at Brookfield.

Although the book is unabashedly sentimental, it also depicts the sweeping social changes that Chips experiences throughout his life: he begins his tenure at Brookfield in 1870, as the Franco-Prussian War is breaking out and lies on his deathbed shortly after Hitler's rise to power. At times, the book is rather ethnocentric. On numerous occasions, Chips ruminates on his faith in "English blood," and at one point gets into trouble for making a joke about the name and ancestry of a "boy named Isaacstein." (Later editions of the book eliminated the Jewish reference and simply said that Chips "made fun of a boy's name.") He is seen as an individual who is able to connect to anyone on a human level, beyond what he (by proxy of his former wife) views as petty politics, such as the strikers, the Boers, and a German friend.

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