National Character in South African English Children's Literature: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

National Character in South African English Children's Literature

1st Edition

By Elwyn Jenkins


240 pages

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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




About the Author

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.

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 / Children's Literature