1st Edition

The Figure of the Child in WWI American, British, and Canadian Children’s Literature Farmer, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

By Elizabeth A. Galway Copyright 2022
    244 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    244 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Over the past century, much attention has been paid to the literature written for adults in response to the First World War, but there has been comparatively little consideration of how the war influenced literature for young readers at the time. Based on extensive archival research, this study examines an array of wartime writing for young people and provides a new understanding of the complexities and nuances within children’s literature of the period. In its discussion of nearly 150 primary sources from Britain, Canada, and the United States, this volume considers some well-known texts but also brings to light forgotten children’s literature of the era, providing new insights into how WWI was presented to the young people whose lives were indelibly impacted by the crisis. Paying special attention to the varied ways in which child figures were depicted, it reflects on what these portrayals reveal about adult conceptualizations of youth, and it considers how these may have shaped young readers’ own views of armed conflict, citizenship, and childhood. From the helpless victim to the heroic combatant, child figures appeared in many guises, exposing a range of adult concerns about nation, empire, and children’s citizenship. Exploring everything from alphabet books for beginning readers, to recruitment materials for high school students, this book examines works from multiple genres and provides a uniquely comprehensive study of transatlantic children’s literature produced during the first global war.

    Introduction: Wartime Tales of Innocence and Experience

    Chapter One: Family Ties and Family Feuds: National Identities in a Time of War

    Chapter Two: ‘What Have We Done?’ The Vulnerable and Victimized Child

    Chapter Three: The Child at Play: Blurring the Boundaries between Children’s Pastimes and the Business of War

    Chapter Four: Tinker, Tailor, Farmer, Thrift-Maker: The Child Contributor on the Home Front

    Chapter Five: Young Recruiters and Youthful Recruits: Promoting Enlistment and Other Participation on the Frontlines

    Chapter Six: A Babe in Arms: The Conflicted Figure of the Boy Soldier

    Chapter Seven: ‘Why We Fought the Hun’: Portraying the German Enemy to Child Readers

    Conclusion: The Child as the Embodiment of Hope


    Elizabeth A. Galway is Associate Professor of English and Board of Governors Research Chair in Children’s Literature and Culture at the University of Lethbridge, where she serves as Co-Director of the Institute for Child and Youth Studies. She has published widely on children’s literature and is the author of From Nursery Rhymes to Nationhood: Children’s Literature and the Construction of Canadian Identity (Routledge, 2008). She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Exeter, an M.A. from Durham University, and an Honours B.A. from the University of Toronto.