Olive Norton: The Recording

Olive Norton: The Recording

Two weeks ago we met Olive Norton, the homeschool mother who taught her daughter at home all the way through the secondary level. Then we learned that after graduating her daughter, Mrs. Norton became the headmistress of a small PNEU school.

On a fateful January day in the early 1970s, two girls visited that school. Their names were Margaret and Kirsteen. Their mother recalled that it “was a small PNEU school, run in a classroom built onto the back of someone’s private home, looking into an English country garden.”[1] The mother then described what happened when the girls got home:

After the first day, Kirsteen came home glowing with life and interest. “We had the most exciting story today, but Mrs. Norton stopped at just the wrong place. I can’t wait to hear the next part of the story!” And what was this exciting, vitalizing story? To my astonishment, it was Pilgrim’s Progress, read to them in the original.[2]

Kirsteen’s mother was intrigued and spoke with the headmistress. Years later she would write, “Thank you, Olive Norton, for introducing us to Charlotte Mason in the first place.”[3] Kirsteen’s family was deeply involved in L’Abri and wanted to introduce Charlotte Mason to the wider community. What better way than to invite Mrs. Norton to speak? And so she did. And the lecture was recorded.

The name of Kirsteen’s mother is Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. Macaulay went on to write For the Children’s Sake, the book that introduced countless parents and teachers around the world to Charlotte Mason. Now you can hear the voice of the woman that introduced Charlotte Mason to her.

The cassette recording of Mrs. Norton’s lecture has endured some wear in the past 46 years, so we have carefully and lovingly digitized and enhanced it for you. Nevertheless, there remains some distortion making it hard to understand at times. The first few minutes are the most difficult. But keep listening. Soon you’ll grow accustomed to the sound of this voice from the past. You’ll find yourself in that “classroom built onto the back of someone’s private home, looking into an English country garden.” You’ll find yourself like Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, wanting to tell the world about this life-giving approach to education.


[1] Macaulay, Susan Schaeffer (2022). For the Children’s Sake. Wheaton: Crossway. (Original work published 1984.) p. 56.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., p. 13.

9 Replies to “Olive Norton: The Recording”

    1. Thank you for the suggestion! That is something we may be able to produce. Until or unless we do, I hope that people will take time to listen to the warm conviction of Mrs. Norton’s voice!

  1. I have listened. What a treasure you have found. Thank you for all your hard work you have done to find out more about this remarkable woman, Charlotte Mason

  2. I wanted to know if Olive Norton did write the book she mentioned she wanted to. I am very interested in her way of teaching phonics to dyslexic children.

  3. What a treasure to find here!
    I was very lucky, that my parents sent me to Mrs Norton’s school.
    I loved it there, very fond memories, the best school I had been to for sure.
    Shakespeare in that beautiful garden, it all felt like being in a family.
    Captain Norton painting in his studio, while we played outside, all the while we could see that beautiful garden change in the seasons.
    Are there any more photos of Mrs Norton? I would be so happy to see her again.

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