It's hard to imagine anyone settling down to write the further adventures of that Harry Potter of the 1830s, Tom Brown; even harder to imagine anyone settling down to read them. (Thomas Hughes did in fact write a sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, but it's never done as well as Tom Brown's Schooldays: Amazon.co.uk hasn't even heard of it.) It's a different matter for young Tom's Voldemort, 'that blackguard Flashman, who never speaks to one without a kick or an oath'. George MacDonald Fraser's series of novels about him - known collectively as The Flashman Papers, the first of which appeared in 1969 - are, I would guess, read much more widely than their worthy Victorian forebear, and deservedly so. Ditching all that pious 'muscular Christianity' in favour of stories of high adventure, in which the totally undeserving narrator gets mistaken by all for a hero and wins out every time, couldn't fail to be a smart move. Flashman's Lady is a good ten thousand places ahead of the most popular edition of Tom Brown's Schooldays in the Amazon league, despite being five times the price. Here is a fullish description of the 'cowardly brute' from Thomas Hughes:
Flashman, be it said, was about 17 years old, and big and strong for his age. He played well at all games where pluck wasn't much wanted, and managed generally to keep up appearances where it was; and having a bluff, off-hand manner, which passed for heartiness, and considerable powers of being pleasant when he liked, went down with the school in general for a good fellow enough.
LRB 9 May 2002 | PDF Download