Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Birth Of Children's Literature

A well-done review of a bio of author Beatrix Potter in the London Review Of Books (which you must subscribe to in order to read) mentioned the crush of classic children's literature that appeared in the wake of "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" in 1865. It was almost as if the Victorians invented childhood (a rather new concept) just so they could invent children's literature as well. It was 30+ years after that book that the wave came: Kenneth Grahame's under-appreciated gem "The Golden Age" in 1895, Potter's "Peter Rabbit" in 1902, E. Nesbit's "Five Children and It" also in 1902, JM Barrie's "Peter Pan" onstage in 1904, Nesbit's "The Railway Children" in 1906, Grahame's "The Wind in the Willows" in 1908 (with the final brilliance of AA Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" in 1926). Throw in "Treasure Island" from 1893 and you can see what a remarkable 15 years that was.

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