Overview

Inforgraphic illustrating aspects of the poem In Mrs Tilscher's Class

The poem explores a young child growing up within a nurturing primary school environment. Mrs Tilscher, from the poem's title, is portrayed as a loving teacher who has a profound effect on her pupils.

This poem is drawn from Duffy's own experience. Mrs Tilscher was a real teacher and therefore the use of the personal pronoun 'you' places her back into the past, as she recalls her positive memories of school. It also enables the reader to identify with her experience, drawing them in to the poem. Duffy uses different times of year to represent the stages in the child's journey towards adolescence.

Duffy conjures a classroom from the past, by mentioning "chalk" and a "skittle of milk". The reference to Brady and Hindley, the ‘Moors Murderers’ serial killers, sets the poem in the 1960s, sets the poem at around the 1950s/ 1960s, as they would have featured greatly in the news during this time.

The delight of Mrs Tilscher's Class seems to protect the children from the insalubrious outside world, but it does not last forever. The children grow and move towards adolescence, where they experience new feelings and sensations, and ultimately leave Mrs Tilscher behind.

Photo of children waiting for their daily bottle of milk. Circa 1970