Between GenerationsCollaborative Authorship in the Golden Age of Children's Literature

Between GenerationsCollaborative Authorship in the Golden Age of Children's Literature

Victoria Ford Smith

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9781496813374

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

Between Generations recuperates a tradition of adult-child collaboration in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British children’s literature and culture, charting the emergence of new models of authorship and a growing cultural imperative to recognize the young as active, creative agents. The book examines the intergenerational partnerships that generated pivotal texts from the Golden Age of children’s literature, from “The Pied Piper” to Peter Pan, and in doing so challenges popular critical narratives that read actual young people solely as social constructs or passive recipients of texts. The spectrum of adult-child partnerships included within this book’s chapters make clear that the boundary between fictive collaborations and lived partnerships was not firm but that, instead, imaginative and material practices were mutually constitutive. Adults’ partnerships with young auditors, writers, illustrators, reviewers, and co-conspirators reveal that the agentic, creative child was not only a figure but also an actor, vital to authorial practice. These collaborations were part of a larger investigation of the limits and possibilities of child agency taking place in a range of discourses and cultural venues, from education reform to psychology to librarianship. Throughout, the book considers the many Victorian writers and thinkers, from Robert Louis Stevenson to Friedrich Froebel, who question the assumed authority of adults, who write about children as both passive and subversive subjects, and who self-consciously negotiate, alongside real children, the ideological and ethical difficulties of listening to and representing children’s perspectives.