This is an unexpectedly raw and provocative book title which slipped onto the bookshop shelves firstly in hardback in 1969, and then as a paperback in 1971. It then slid out of sight - but not completely...
It's a novel about a young teacher at a 'special school' for 'violent' children - and according to the blurb on the back of the paperback edition - it reflects the genuine experiences of the American-born author, Sandy Hutson, who came to Britain, and worked as an 'unqualified' teacher. There's a wild quote from the New Statesman which reckoned that 'eff off' sends E.R.Braithwaite's 'To Sir, With Love' "back to the kindergarten!". That classic 1959 semi-autobiographical novel about a British Guiana-born teacher gaining the respect of truculent pupils at a school in Shadwell, East London, is perhaps the best-known of this kind of 'against-the-odds-getting-through-to-the-kids' genre. Perhaps because the 1967 film based on the novel was so very popular - and with a chart-topping title song taken from the film soundtrack.
Another book covering similar terrain (and given the film treatment too) is today much less well-remembered - Michael Croft's 'Spare the Rod' from 1954.
Back to 'eff off'. Here's the '69 hardback edition with its illustrated dust jacket:
|published by Arlington Books|
|Pan Books Ltd 1971|
Nice to compare with the 'period' paperback treatment of those earlier classroom-based novels:
|Panther Edition 1957|
|Ace Books 1961|
Instead, take a hunt around the web and you'll find 'The Class of Miss MacMichael', a 1978 film based on Sandy Hutson's book. It reunited 'Women in Love' stars Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson and was shot on location in London, but it seems to have been punished by the critics, and ignored by the public.
Maybe the time's right for a new cinematic take on the inner city classroom genre. If so, you could do no worse than take the title which still packs a punch. Eff Off.