National Character in South African English Children's Literature  book cover
1st Edition

National Character in South African English Children's Literature

ISBN 9781138833326
Published July 16, 2015 by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

This is the first full-length study of South African English youth literature to cover the entire period of its publication, from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century. Jenkins' book focuses on what made the subsequent literature essentially South African and what aspects of the country and its society authors concentrated on. What gives this book particular strength is its coverage of literature up to the 1960s, which has until now received almost no scholarly attention. Not only is this earlier literature a rewarding subject for study in itself, but it also throws light on subsequent literary developments. Another exceptional feature is that the book follows the author’s previous work in placing children’s literature in the context of adult South African literature and South African cultural history (e.g. cinema). He also makes enlightening comparisons with American, Canadian and Australian children’s literature.

Table of Contents




  1. Country Children
  2. Famous Writers and Books
  3. Ecology
  4. Fairies, Talking Animals and Patriotism
  5. Folktales
  6. Stories in the Folktale Tradition
  7. The San and the National Conscience
  8. Cross-Cultural Dressing, Nudity and Cultural Identity
  9. City Children




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Elwyn Jenkins was born and educated in South Africa. He has had a career in school teaching, teacher education, and university teaching and management. Now retired, he is Professor Emeritus and Professor Extraordinarius in English at the University of South Africa. He has written two books on children’s literature and two on place names.