The Making of Modern Children's Literature in Britain : Publishing and Criticism in the 1960s and 1970s book cover
1st Edition

The Making of Modern Children's Literature in Britain
Publishing and Criticism in the 1960s and 1970s

ISBN 9781138252189
Published October 31, 2016 by Routledge
228 Pages

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Book Description

Lucy Pearson’s lively and engaging book examines British children’s literature during the period widely regarded as a ’second golden age’. Drawing extensively on archival material, Pearson investigates the practical and ideological factors that shaped ideas of ’good’ children’s literature in Britain, with particular attention to children’s book publishing. Pearson begins with a critical overview of the discourse surrounding children’s literature during the 1960s and 1970s, summarizing the main critical debates in the context of the broader social conversation that took place around children and childhood. The contributions of publishing houses, large and small, to changing ideas about children’s literature become apparent as Pearson explores the careers of two enormously influential children’s editors: Kaye Webb of Puffin Books and Aidan Chambers of Topliner Macmillan. Brilliant as an innovator of highly successful marketing strategies, Webb played a key role in defining what were, in her words, ’the best in children’s books’, while Chambers’ work as an editor and critic illustrates the pioneering nature of children's publishing during this period. Pearson shows that social investment was a central factor in the formation of this golden age, and identifies its legacies in the modern publishing industry, both positive and negative.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: golden ages; The children’s literature scene; Kaye Webb and Puffin books; Aidan Chambers and Topliner; Conclusion: the making of modern children’s literature; Appendix: interview with Aidan Chambers; Bibliography; Index.

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Lucy Pearson is Lecturer in Children’s Literature at Newcastle University, UK. Her research interests are focused around modern children’s literature and publishing, book history, and fan culture.


’Lucy’s Pearson’s research analyses the influences which have shaped children’s publishing in the UK, and contextualises its growth in the social and economic events of the times. This is an original contribution to the literature, based on sound and thorough investigation, including interviews, textual analysis and historical research. It is a valuable addition to the discourse on publishing history generally, and children’s publishing history in particular’. Robyn Sheahan-Bright, co-editor with Craig Munro of Paper Empires: A History of the Book in Australia 1946- 2005 'This is a very useful account of various aspects of children’s publishing in the 1960s and 1970s...' Children’s Books History Society Newsletter 'This book is an illuminating and well-researched study that goes beyond the individual imprints and editors Pearson discusses, to provide a fascinating account of the children's literature field in Britain in the 1960s and '70s. Her work should be a valuable resource for scholars of the literature as well as the history of the period.' Children’s Literature Association Quarterly ’I found Lucy Pearson’s book a fascinating account of a period through which I lived.’ Souvenir, The Journal of the Violet Needham Society 'You will not ... be able to escape the conclusion, after reading this valuable addition to the history of children's publishing, that this was indeed a deeply significant period of development that left a permanent imprint upon the publishing industry we know today. [A] highly readable and engrossing account ...' Publishing Research Quarterly 'I found Lucy Pearson's book a fascinating account ...' Publishing History '[Pearson] skillfully assesses Britain’s publication industry during the 1960s and 1970s and its evolving dynamic while expertly weaving in scores of primary texts to illustrate her argument. Detailed, well-supported, and highly informative, Pearson’s study is a welcome and valuable addition t