A Flowering of Children's Literature
Contrasting with the didactic movement was 19th-century romanticism, which produced a body of literature that genuinely belonged to children. For the first time children's books contained fantasy and realism, fun and adventure, and many of the books written at that time are still popular today. Folk tales collected in Germany by the brothers Grimm were translated into English in 1823. The fairy stories of Hans Christian Andersen appeared in England in 1846. At the end of the 19th cent. Joseph Jacobs compiled English folk tales. Andrew Lang, a folklorist, began a series of fairy tales. Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense (1846) and Robert Louis Stevenson's Child's Garden of Verses (1885) set the style for much of the poetry written for children today. Lewis Carroll's twin masterpieces Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1872) combine lunacy and fantasy with satire and word games.
Victorian family life is realistically depicted in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (1868), whereas Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1880) emphasize adventure; all three books present fully developed characters. At the turn of the century several children's magazines were being published, the most important being the St. Nicholas Magazine (1887–1943).
Meanwhile, translations widened the world of the English-speaking child from the 19th cent. on; popular translated works include J. D. Wyss's Swiss Family Robinson (tr. from the German, 1814); Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio (tr. from the Italian, 1892); Felix Salten's Bambi (tr. from the German, 1928); Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Little Prince (tr. from the French, 1943); Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking (tr. from the Swedish, 1950); and Herta von Gebhardt's The Girl from Nowhere (tr. from the German, 1959).
Sections in this article:
- The Beginnings of Children's Literature
- A Flowering of Children's Literature
- The Twentieth Century
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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