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Title: Historical fiction for children and young people : changing fashions, changing forms, changing representations in British writing, 1934-2014
Authors: Clark, Ann Christine
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: In Language and Ideology in Children’s Fiction (1992) John Stephens forecast the demise of children’s historical fiction as a genre on the grounds that both history itself and the humanist values Stephens saw as underpinning historical fiction were irrelevant to young readers in postmodernity and intrinsically at odds with the attitudes and values of literary postmodernism. In fact, by the end of the millennium juvenile historical fiction was resurgent and continues to propagate humanist ideology. This study explores the changing nature and status of the genre as it has been published in Britain since Geoffrey Trease’s ground‐breaking Bows Against the Barons, a left‐wing retelling of the Robin Hood story, was published in 1934. Consideration is given to the relationship between cultural change and the treatment of the structure, themes, settings and characters that typically feature in historical novels for the young. The work comprises an Introduction and three themed case studies based on a character (Robin Hood), a historical period (the long eighteenth century), and a historical event (the First World War). The case studies are used both to chart changes in the nature, quantity, and reception of historical fiction and to demonstrate the extent to which writers have used historical narratives to explore concerns that were topical at the time the books were written. In addition to the case studies, which of necessity discuss only a proportion of the texts published on each topic, the thesis includes complementary appendices which provide comprehensive bibliographies for the subject. Key changes noted over the period include the rise since the 1970s of historical novels featuring groups that were previously marginalised on the grounds of gender, sexuality, class and/or race; adjustments to the age and audience of historical fiction, and considerable use of fantasy elements including timeslip narratives. Texts discussed in detail include works by Enid Blyton, Hester Burton, Elsie McCutcheon, Marjorie Darke, Penelope Farmer, Leon Garfield, Julia Golding, Stephen R. Lawhead, Robyn McKinley, Linda Newbery, K.M. Peyton, Marcus Sedgwick, Theresa Tomlinson and Geoffrey Trease.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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