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

The Making of Modern Children's Literature in Britain

Publishing and Criticism in the 1960s and 1970s, 1st Edition

By Lucy Pearson


228 pages

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Paperback: 9781138252189
pub: 2016-11-30
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Hardback: 9781409443414
pub: 2013-09-17
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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.


’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

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.

About the Author

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.

About the Series

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

This series recognizes and supports innovative work on the child and on literature for children and adolescents that informs teaching and engages with current and emerging debates in the field. Proposals are welcome for interdisciplinary and comparative studies by humanities scholars working in a variety of fields, including literature; book history, periodicals history, and print culture and the sociology of texts; theater, film, musicology, and performance studies; history, including the history of education; gender studies; art history and visual culture; cultural studies; and religion.

Topics might include, among other possibilities, how concepts and representations of the child have changed in response to adult concerns; postcolonial and transnational perspectives; "domestic imperialism" and the acculturation of the young within and across class and ethnic lines; the commercialization of childhood and children's bodies; views of young people as consumers and/or originators of culture; the child and religious discourse; children's and adolescents' self-representations; and adults' recollections of childhood.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature