Charles Dickens and the Victorian Child: Romanticizing and Socializing the Imperfect Child, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Charles Dickens and the Victorian Child

Romanticizing and Socializing the Imperfect Child, 1st Edition

By Amberyl Malkovich


160 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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This book explores the ideas of children and childhood, and the construct of the ‘ideal’ Victorian child, that developed rapidly over the Victorian era along with literacy and reading material for the emerging mass reading public. Children’s Literature was one of the developing areas for publishers and readers alike, yet this did not stop the reading public from bringing home works not expressly intended for children and reading to their family. Within the idealized middle class family circle, authors such as Charles Dickens were read and appreciated by members of all ages. By examining some of Dickens’s works that contain the imperfect child, and placing them alongside works by Kingsley, MacDonald, Stretton, Rossetti, and Nesbit, Malkovich considers the construction, romanticization, and socialization of the Victorian child within work read by and for children during the Victorian Era and early Edwardian period. These authors use elements of religion, death, irony, fairy worlds, gender, and class to illustrate the need for the ideal child and yet the impossibility of such a construct. Malkovich contends that the ‘imperfect’ child more readily reflects reality, whereas the ‘ideal’ child reflects an unattainable fantasy and while debates rage over how to define children’s literature, such children, though somewhat changed, can still be found in the most popular of literatures read by children contemporarily.


'…meticulously researched… offers many new insights into the neglected topic of less-than-perfect children in Victorian fiction. Summing Up: Highly recommended.' - Choice

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Please Sir, I Want Some More: Learning…at Any Cost 2. I believe, I believe!: Fairies, Their World, and Authorial Preservation 3. Belittling and Being Little: Resisting Socially Imposed Physical and Gendered Limitations 4. A Beautiful Decay: Disease, Death and Eternal Longing of the Imperfect Child 5. Mining the Missing Link: Contemporary Constructions of the Imperfect Child Conclusion: The Perfection of Imperfection: The Consummation of the Misunderstood

About the Author

Amberyl Malkovich is Assistant Professor of Victorian Literature, Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Gender Studies at Concord University, USA.

About the Series

Children's Literature and Culture

Founding Editor and Series Editor 1994-2011: Jack Zipes

Series Editor, 2011-2018: Philip Nel


Founded by Jack Zipes in 1994, Children's Literature and Culture is the longest-running series devoted to the study of children’s literature and culture from a national and international perspective. Dedicated to promoting original research in children’s literature and children’s culture, in 2011 the series expanded its focus to include childhood studies, and it seeks to explore the legal, historical, and philosophical conditions of different childhoods. An advocate for scholarship from around the globe, the series recognizes innovation and encourages interdisciplinarity. Children's Literature and Culture offers cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections considering topics such as gender, race, picturebooks, childhood, nation, religion, technology, and many others. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature