The Four Marys

The Four Marys – Characters

Here’s a brief run down on which Mary is which and other regular characters that appeared in the strip.

The Marys

Mary Simpson (Simpy)

Simpy is a smart, hard working scholarship girl.  She was quite nervous on her first day, and sometimes feels self conscious about not having as much money as the other girls.  She also has to deal with some nasty comments from the Snobs, but because she can rely on the other Marys support she rarely lets it get to her.  Simpy is also shown to be quite compassionate, she was the first to suggest they help Mr. Crowe out even after he has been nasty to them. She often acts a s peace maker and the most reasonable of the girls. She is drawn as the dark curly haired girl.

Simpy_01  simpy_03   simpy_04  simpy

Mary Radleigh (Raddy)

Raddy is the daughter of an Earl, but is very down to earth.  She hates snobbery. She is quite easy going but can also a bit lazy. She is smart but sometimes needed help with her studies from the other Marys, when she had fallen behind.  While she likes being active to an extent, she is also the first one to complain if she’s tired. She is very loyal to her friends and does not like to show favouritism.  When her parents couldn’t make it home for Christmas, she turns down the other Marys offers to stay at their houses, as she didn’t want to snub two of them. She is easily recognisable as the only blonde of the group.

Raddy_01 raddy_03  raddy_05  raddy_04

Mary Cotter (Cotty)

Cotty is usually the quietest of the group. She is artistically talented, with art and music being her two best subjects. Particularly early stories depicted her as the clumsy one and she was also forgetful at times.  She is sometimes superstitious  and is most prone to believing in ghost stories and aliens. She was commonly at the heart of ghostly story-lines (such as a musician ghost that stops a motorway being built on St. Elmos, when Mabel appears to have been possessed by Egyptian Mummy, Cotty becomes friends with her and also believing she has been cursed by a gypsy). Her appearance was the most changed over the years, she started off more caricature like but ended up more like the other Marys, though she did keep onto those plaits for a long time.

Cotty_03  Cotty_01  cotty_04cotty_05 cotty_06

Mary Field (Fieldy)

She is the sporty one of the group and could be stereo-typically competitive along with it. Swimming and hockey are the two sports she concentrates on most. Still although she liked to win, she is also very fair minded. She is also very confident and one the more popular girls at school. She has the determination to stand up for herself and others when needed. When a strict prefect was targeting the Marys, Fieldy came up with the plan to push her limits, she could sometimes a be a little head strong as well. She changed the least over the years, identifiable for her dark bobbed hair.

Fieldy_01    fieldy_04   fieldy_05

The Snobs

Mabel Lentham

mabel_02

mabel_02The more dominant of the two snobs. Her father was a big building contractor. She was stuck up and arrogant. Not only did she look down on scholarship girls, she didn’t like doing activities she thought were below her station. She also didn’t seem to have any career ambitions, as she could rely on her families money. Sometimes both her and Veronica would bully, first years. She was often boastful, and sometimes played dirty tricks to come up on top. Despite this some stories actually showed her being friendly towards the Marys, showing them a funny picture and even sharing chocolates at times.

Veronica Lavery

veronica_01veronica_01Mabel’s loyal friend, often following her biddings. She sometimes could be spiteful, particularly if she felt she was losing her friend. In later stories, she was also shown to be more romantic and more easily misled by a boy’s smooth talking. Overall she was a follower, easily led, she did look down on lower classes as well and was happy to go on and play tricks on the Marys. Sometimes it seemed the Snobs could be inconsistent depending on what the story-line called for, acting nicer than usual at times.

Teachers

Miss Creef (Creefy)

Sometimes represented as old fashioned, particularly when she came into conflict with Miss Mitchell. I think the strictness is more played up in later years, earlier she is more firm but fair and is even likely to join in games and fun. She is declared as one of the favourite teachers of the school, and she lives for teaching. She is also very generous and kind hearted. She gives Simpy extra lessons for a special exam and  she helps out a teacher with a baby giving her the opportunity to work on and still look after the toddler. She dislikes sneaks and admires honesty and hard work.

creef_03    creef_04     creef_05

Dr Gull

The original headmistress, she seemed to appear younger as the years went on. While sometimes her and Miss Creef would disagree on things, for the most part they had a close friendship. In fact they had previously been at college together so they had been friends for many years. After she left she sometimes returned making brief appearances as a school inspector or in one instance she temporarily replaces Miss Mitchell while she’s ill. She is very strict and old-fashioned which is not how she was in older stories.

dr_gull_01   dr_gull_02   dr_gull_03

Miss Madeline “Maddy” Mitchell

mitchellAt the end of the 80s, Miss Mitchell became the new headmistress. She brought a lot of new ideas to the school. She set up shared events with St. Bartophs, experimented with such ideas as having the students run the school for the week and instigated a student court discipline system. Often she would come in conflict with Miss Creef, who didn’t like all these new changes. There was many picture story libraries based on 4 marys while mostly stand alone but some had major impacts on characters; Mitchell meets her future husband, Michael Patterson,  in one “The Four Marys at Sea” and got married in another “Wedding Belles”.  She had blonde hair and looked quite young (to go with her fresh attitude and contrast to Creefy most likley).

Others

Ann Fairlie

Ann_FairlieThe fair and generous headgirl. She was very understanding and a good listener.  She was someone that the girls could turn to for help and was also very proactive in helping the school or solve a mystery or two. In one case where the teachers strike and an chairman takes over as head, Ann dresses up as a school inspector to set him up into giving into the teachers demands. She was prominent in 60s stories but then seems to have disappeared. (Other than showing up in the 70s reprints)

Ailsa

ailsa_01Ailsa was a lonely girl who lived with her aunt who was very overprotective. Ailsa was disabled and had to use a wheelchair. She started communicating secretly with the Marys who mistakenly thought she was being held captive. After this was all cleared up her aunt actually let her join St. Elmos as a day pupil. She was good friends with the Marys, often helping them out. She was a good student and also had a talent for archery.

Lord Radleigh

lord_radleigh

Raddy’s father, who was also on the board of governors for the school. He often would let the girls know about changes coming to the school. He was active in helping keep the school going whenever it was placed under threat. Like Raddy he did not act self important and stuck up. He was quite a fan of Mitchell’s direction for the school.

 

St. Bartophs

BartophsWhen St. Elmos started mixing with the boys school St. Bartophs, the girls became friends with a couple of boys there. They would often hang out down at St. Elmbury and even help each other out. St. Bartoph’s also provided possible romance for the girls of St. Elmos, though for the most part the Marys just kept it as friendships.

 

Quick Links:

The Four Marys                                                           List of Appearances 

31 thoughts on “The Four Marys

  1. Towards the 2000s we started getting a lot of Marys reprints from the 1990s. One was where the first years had resurrected an old secret society that specialised in pranks, especially for revenge on unpopular girls. But it all backfires when a prank puts Veronica in danger on a remote island (the Marys rescue her, of course). Miss Creef bans their society.

    The 2000s was a time for a lot of reprints in Bunty in general, some under revised titles. But for me, these reprints were a bad sign, as they were a strong indication that Bunty was declining. And when they finished “The Comp”, it was the ultimate sign that the end of Bunty wasn’t far off.

  2. No mysteries … But lots of strange weirdness … Like lessons in how to drink champagne without burping and how to get out of a sports car without showing your knickers! Seriously, and the usual weekly rankings on Sunday evenings in ‘drawing room’ for deportment, manners and conversation. Bizarre 🙂

  3. My sister and I used to have comics bought for us as kids, I had Beano & Dandy and my sister got the Bunty…..I preferred reading the Bunty. I loved the four Marys.

  4. A little poem I wrote based on my memories of Christmas in the 1950’s/60’s.

    CHRISTMAS MORN
    Christmas morn, up at Dawn
    All is sparkly and shiny and red,
    Stocking at end of the bed,
    A tangerine and a thru penny bit
    ‘Beano’ and ‘Dandy’s’ comic wit –
    ‘The Four Marys’ always a hit.
    Down the stairs it’s all rush and bustle
    Mother’s chivvying, adults hustle
    Loops of green and gold and red
    Paper bells and stars on thread
    Tables laid and toasts are said
    Merry Christmas!
    Carole Trenaman

  5. Like another bloke on here – My sister used to get Bunty, Judy etc – whilst I had Beano and Dandy. Much preferred my sisters magazines. The four Marys in the Bunty being the coolest one of the lot!
    Ahh Happy days!!!

    1. Bunty was not the first comic for girls but it was the last one running from 1958 until 2001. The “School Friend” name appeared first as a more text based magazine in 1919. The more familiar picture story comic School Friend first issue is dated 20 May 1950 and contained the first appearance of The Silent Three – Betty, Peggy & Joan and their adventures at St. Kitts’ boarding school.

      1. You are obviously perfectly correct, lorrsadmin, when stating that Bunty was not the first comic/story paper for girls, but I think it’s worth pointing out that it was the first one to be produced by D C Thomsons, as well as being the last one.

  6. Andy Tew drew a Four Marys story, about the 1740-1750 mark or thereabouts. And the Aunty Hard Heart artist filled in at one point, about the time he or she was drawing “Move Over, Maria”.

  7. My goodness me! The Four Mary’s were the best, especially the 50’s/60’s ones: Dr Gull & Miss Creef sure hand a handful sometimes-couldn’t wait to get my older Sis to finish the comic!

  8. I liked reading comics in the late 50s, early 60s. My favourite characters were Red Rory, Olac the Gladiator and the Four Marys. More subtlety in them than the cheap bang-bang Westerns with the good cowboys and bad injuns(Glad my instincts were right). Don’t know the comic but I liked Katy Somers and her friends Mary and Jennifer (only a shadow of the Marys though). Might I add that DC Thompson bound up the entire Red Rory, the Summer Specials of the Marys, Innocent Angela and other pieces for me.. for a reasonable price. Also I used the British Library. They were happy days!!

      1. If you are associating ‘happy days’ with the days when your favourite comics appeared in your local newsagent’s , Mistyfan, then I can understand your frustration. However, that view does seem rather negative, would you not agree? After all you do have a decent collection of girls comics that you can always dip into whenever you have enough spare time, and you can buy more when you have enough money to lay out on them, as I know you have done from 30th Century Comics from time to time. Another idea is to buy, or even better, borrow from a local library, novels written specifically for girls. I assume you have a system over there that is similar to our Inter-Library Loan one. Over the last three years I have acquired 364 such novels, two still to arrive, about eighty still to read. In my house at the moment all days are ‘happy days’ I’m pleased to say.

  9. I liked reading the Four Marys stories in both the annuals and the comics but don’t remember the fifth Mary and wondered in which story she was and if it was possible to get hold of the booklet stories today?

    1. The Five Marys was only a one off story, I don’t have that book, so not sure how it concluded. Here’s a picture of the cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/1137146/cover/4/ the fifth Mary was called Mary Priest.

      There are other stories where a new Mary joined the gang such as in “Silent Illness” but things quickly revert back to the status quo.

      Ebay, Amazon and 30th Century comics (http://30thcenturycomics.co.uk/catalogue-index/girls-picture-libraries/) all sell the picture story library books, although none seem to have that particular issue at the moment.

  10. With the box-office success of Wonder Woman and hit TV shows like Jessica Jones & Supergirl, I think now’s the time for a movie adaptation of the Bunty comic book series

      1. It wouldn’t have to be US produced, but those successes do show female comic characters can be popular. I always thought Valda would make a good film/TV series. There’s also Riverdale which shows soap stories like The Comp could work. I’m sure there’s plenty that could be adapted if they wanted.

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