Children’s literature

Part I. Theory and critical approaches

 

15. Bibliography

 

Matthew Grenby

 

Bibliography can mean many things. Simple enumerative bibliography lists precisely what was published in a given period or genre, or by a particular author. Analytical bibliography can go much further, exploring the often complicated progress from author’s manuscript to published book, the processes of book manufacture and marketing, and the nature of readers’ and other writers’ responses (an admirable precis, ‘Descriptive Bibliography’, is provided by Terry Belanger in Book Collecting: A Modern Guide: Peters 1977: 97-101). Few would doubt that good bibliographical work of any of these varieties can be hugely useful in understanding the origins and development of children’s literature. Most would also agree that the bibliographical groundwork has yet to be adequately laid for the study of children’s books. Brian Alderson, for instance, is sure that it has not. In 1975 he told the Bibliographical Society that ‘there is much elementary bibliographical work still to be done’ in the field of children’s literature (Alderson 1977: 206). Twenty years later, his opinion was unchanged, and he added the charge that the energy that might usefully have been spent undertaking this work had been wasted on solipsistic critical analyses of the same old texts: ‘Oh dear,’ he wrote, ‘so much bibliographical groundwork to be done, and all we get is floss’ (Alderson 1995a: 17). It is from a statement like this that we can begin to see why children’s literature bibliography - ostensibly such an uncomplicated part of scholarship - has recently become the subject of some contention.

What Alderson was suggesting was that a deep division exists between bibliography and literary criticism, and especially any criticism based on literary theory: what he called ‘floss’. For Alderson, it was imperative that good bibliographical work should form the basis for all scholarly enquiry into children’s literature, and any time spent on critical exegesis was wasted while there was still so much basic scholarship to be done. Peter Hunt, among other children’s literature scholars, rose to the bait. ‘Critical’ and ‘theoretical’ approaches were every bit as valuable as bibliography, Hunt wrote in a response to Alderson, and their practitioners should not be inhibited by any lack of bibliographical work, however regrettable that lack might be (Hunt 1995). Both had valid points. Hunt’s contention that it was unwarranted to attack critics who neglected to check publication dates, or dared not expound the conflicting evidence of different editions, impressions, issues and corrected and uncorrected states (to say nothing of colophons and watermarks), was surely only reasonable. For his part, Alderson was correct to point out that children’s books, far more than books for adults, were created in the publishing process, by publishers, illustrators, marketers, teachers and so on, rather than only by authors whose texts transferred smoothly from manuscript to printed page to readers’ minds. It is a convincing argument that this long process, with its various mediating factors, is best analysed by descriptive and textual bibliography (Alderson 1995a and 1995b).

Alderson was also surely correct to argue that children’s literature does still lack a firm bibliographical base. The history of children’s literature in some periods and some places has simply not been written in any detail. Hardly anything is known about which books children read in medieval or early modern Europe, for instance. Likewise (though Alderson was less concerned about this), bibliographies of the children’s literature of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, when they exist at all, seldom stretch back much beyond the middle of the twentieth century. Partly this is because there are so many different competing approaches to children’s books which draw scholars away from bibliographic research. Scholars come at children’s literature as historians of education, as library scientists, as cultural historians, as well as from literary backgrounds, and there is consequently less insistence on the virtues of bibliography. Partly, the lack of bibliography is also due to the relatively recent arrival of children’s literature as a recognised field of academic enquiry. Having been taken seriously only for decades rather than for centuries, children’s literature studies have simply not accumulated the scholarly infrastructure, including bibliography, which has accreted around other more established areas of literary research. That recent scholars have leapfrogged the description-based ‘bibliographic stage’, and that analytical literary criticism has now become the dominant mode of academic enquiry into children’s literature, is difficult to deny. A glance at Irving P. Leif’s Children’s Literature: A Historical and Contemporary Bibliography, published in 1977, confirms this, with articles like ‘Wittgenstein, Nonsense and Lewis Carroll’ (Pitcher 1965) beginning to oust the likes of ‘Carroll’s withdrawal of the 1865 Alice’ (Ayres 1934) from the 1960s onwards. That Leif’s remains one of the only two full-scale print-format bibliographies of children’s literature studies is also testament to the decline of this approach (the other is Haviland 1966 et seq.).

Does this mean that children’s literature bibliography is dying? The answer, surely, is no. The dichotomy exposed by the brief spat between Alderson and Hunt was rather artificial. Critics and bibliographers are actually not always at each others’ throats. (Can it have been coincidence that the issue of the Children’s Books History Society Newsletter which contained the Alderson-Hunt exchange bore on its front cover John Tenniel’s image of Tweedledum and Tweedledee preparing to fight?) They have, it must be admitted, tended to congregate in different locales. The bibliographers have usually been self-funded individuals, often book collectors or dealers. The critics have tended to thrive in the relatively well-resourced and perhaps rather artificial environment of university literature departments. But there was actually much more common ground between these two groups than at first meets the eye. Hunt did nothing to dispute the importance of bibliography as one approach to children’s books. Similarly, Alderson argued against any attempt at ‘driving a wedge’ between those who are interested in the ‘physical and historical aspects of documents’ and ‘those who care about what the documents say’. There should be no separation between these two approaches, ‘but a continuum of critical activity’ (Alderson 1995b: 23). Both Hunt and Alderson tacitly accepted, then, that bibliography and literary criticism could work in tandem. This is precisely what happens in practice. The very lack of bibliographical work has necessitated the incorporation of historical, and for that matter enumerative, bibliography into even the most theoretical of children’s literature studies. Thus, to take one example, if we wish to know about the history of Norwegian children’s books, we can turn to Kari Skj0nsberg’s ‘Nationalism as an Aspect of the History of Norwegian Children’s Literature, 1814-1905’ (Nikolajeva 1995: 105-14). Although it appears in a volume remarkable for its rigorously theoretical approach to children’s books, the essay provides an instructive survey of Norwegian children’s books alongside its exploration of the role of children’s literature in nation-building in the nineteenth century. Likewise, books like The Black American in Books for Children: Readings in Racism (MacCann and Woodard 1985), or Jack Zipes’s The Brothers Grimm. From Enchanted Forests to the Modern World (Zipes 1988: especially 183-4), perform bibliographic as well as analytical and ideological tasks.

The crossover between these two supposedly inimical approaches is also evident in the most orthodox bibliographical works. Bibliography, after all, is never neutral. Alongside their checklists of titles and editions, even the most dependable and putatively ‘objective’ bibliographies almost always include literary analysis, artistic and ideological judgements, and attempts to arrange texts according to certain predetermined criteria. F. J. Harvey Darton’s path-breaking bibliographical survey of Children’s Books in England (Darton, revised Alderson 1932/1982), for example, set an astonishingly durable ideological agenda. Darton divided British children’s literature into categories which were broadly chronological but which also demarcated children’s books according to whether they were godly or imaginative, fairy tales or moral tales, based on strict pedagogic principles or aiming to inspire levity. Those histories of British children’s literature which have followed have almost always stuck to these categories, even if the particular titles they have included have been slightly different from those chosen by Darton as milestones to modernity (Muir 1954; Townsend 1965/1995; Thwaite 1963/1972; and Quayle 1971 and 1983). Indeed, the most recent attempts to survey the history of British children’s books have tended to schematise the story even further. For Geoffrey Summerfield, children’s books can most usefully be understood as either didactic or entertaining, and the tension between these two tendencies was what has powered the development of the genre (Summerfield 1984). Straying further from Darton’s paradigm, Mary Jackson attempted to situate her history of early children’s books in the context of contemporary politics and economics (Jackson 1989). From the point of view of bibliography, though, her book is more useful for its willingness to draw on a larger corpus of cheap and popular texts than Darton, and for her inclusion of research on authors and publishers which had been published since Alderson last revised Darton’s book in 1982. Also important as supplements to Darton, who only really got into his stride in the mid-eighteenth century, are the attempts to chart the murky origins of British children’s literature. In this field, William Sloane’s Children’s Books in England and America in the Seventeenth Century (Sloane 1955) and Ruth K. MacDonald’s Literature for Children in England and America from 1646 to 1774 (MacDonald 1982) will soon be joined by a bibliography of all books published for children in Britain before 1800 by Ruth B. Bottigheimer (Bottigheimer, forthcoming; for a summary of the key texts of British children’s ‘incunabula’ see Alderson 1999).

All these books deal almost exclusively with English literature, into which the Scottish, Irish and Welsh traditions have generally been silently subsumed. Little effort has so far been made to reclaim them. Although a substantial amount of critical analysis has now been carried out into particular Scottish children’s books, for instance, no full-scale bibliography of books for children published in Scotland, or about Scottish subjects, exists. The most useful source remains a short essay on The Scottish Contribution to Children’s Literature published in the mid-1960s (Douglas 1966) and whatever can be gleaned from Colin Manlove’s admirable critical survey of Scottish fantasy literature (Manlove 1996). There is a similar paucity of bibliographic work on the children’s literature of Ireland (Madden 1955 remains useful). In fact, it is only the history of Welsh children’s literature which has received any sustained attention, and there is still much work to be done (S. Jones 1990; M. and G. Jones 1983, in Welsh).

Even if the bibliography of British children’s literature is itself in need of revision (and Darton’s final chapter is entitled ‘The Eighties and Today’, meaning the 1880s, not the 1980s!), it is far further forward than that in most other parts of the world. The major exception to this is Germany. The Handbuch zur Kinder- und Jugendliteratur, with (to date) four huge volumes dealing with discrete chronological periods from the very first children’s books to 1850, is now probably the most authoritative bibliography of children’s literature in existence (Bruggermann and Ewers 1982; Bruggermann and Brunken 1987, 1991; and Brunken et al. 1998; all in German). With astonishingly thorough entries on individual children’s books, arranged chronologically within broad generic categories, it functions both as an immensely detailed encyclopedia and an in-depth narrative history of children’s literature in German. Members of the same team which produced the Handbuch have also produced a shorter history of Austrian children’s literature (Ewers and Seibert 1997, in German) and a bibliography of German-Jewish children’s literature from the eighteenth century to 1945 (Shavit and Ewers 1994, in German). The only comparably thorough listing of a nation’s children’s books is probably Marcie Muir and Kerry White’s survey of Australian books for children (Muir 1992; White 1992). Muir’s volume, covering the period 1774 to 1972, contains over 8,000 children’s books either published in or dealing with Australia, and a further 700 items dealing with the southwest Pacific area. The second volume, by White, takes the bibliography up to 1988.

When we consider the achievement of the Handbuch zur Kinder- und Jugendliteratur in particular, and the lack of any comparable volumes for other regions, complaints about the scantiness of existing bibliographical work seem more justified. The only substantial general survey of western European children’s books remains Brian Alderson’s translation of Bettina Hurlimann’s Three Centuries of Children’s Books in Europe (Hurlimann 1967), an absorbing if rather miscellaneous overview. For more detail, almost all western European nations have their own ‘Darton’ - that is to say, a mid twentieth-century surveyor of the nation’s children’s literature (mostly available only in the language of that nation, but sometimes in English). For a cursory survey of French children’s literature, for instance, one might turn to J. G. Deschamps’s History of French Children’s Books, in English, or Francois Caradec’s Histoire de la literature enfantine en France, in French (Deschamps 1934; Caradec 1977). For Italy there is the work of Louise Hawkes and Vincenzina Battistelli; for the Netherlands there is Leonard de Vries; for Denmark there is Helgo Mollerup; for the Czech and Slovak republics there is Helga Mach; for Portugal there is Henrique Marques; and for Spain there is Carolina Toral y Penaranda and, perhaps best of all, Carmen Bravo-Villasante, who has mapped Spanish children’s literature from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries (Hawkes 1933; Battistelli 1962; de Vries 1964; Mollerup 1951; Mach, ‘Czech and Slovak Children’s Literature’ in Haviland 1973: 365-73; Marques 1928; Toral y Penaranda 1958; Bravo-Villasante 1963). This is just a sample of the now somewhat ageing national histories available. Others can be found in the ‘Further Reading’ sections in the nation-by-nation chapters at the end of this Encyclopedia (and others still by consulting Leif 1977, and the excellent Pellowski 1968). One or two national traditions have received more recent treatments, such as the survey of eighteenth-century Dutch children’s literature by Piet Buijnsters with Leontine Buijnsters-Smets, and of pre-twentieth-century Swiss children’s books by Claudia Weilenmann (Buijnsters and Buijnsters-Smets 1997; Weilenmann 1993). One will search in vain, however, for satisfactory bibliographies of certain nations. To date, for example, there is no substantial survey of Russian or Soviet children’s literature. Once again, though, research which is not primarily bibliographic in nature can be of great use. Evgeny Steiner’s Stories for Little Comrades, though concentrating mostly on the illustration of children’s books in the 1920s and 1930s, provides useful information on what was published for children in the early years of the Soviet Union (Steiner 1999; see also McGill University 1999). Similarly, recent explorations of the interactions between different national traditions of writing for children, though they may be grounded in intertextual theory, have been valuable in reminding us that good bibliographical work, even if it purports to survey only the literature of one country, must always acknowledge the trans-national context. Mariella Colin’s ‘Children’s Literature in France and Italy in the Nineteenth Century: Influences and Exchanges’ makes this point well (Nikolajeva 1995: 77-87).

Beyond Europe, the availability of good bibliographies of children’s books becomes even more patchy. As one might expect, American children’s literature has been relatively well surveyed, the best assessments having been provided by d’Alte Welch’s massive Bibliography of American Children’s Books Printed Prior to 1821 and Gillian Avery’s Behold the Child (Welch 1972, which originally appeared in the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 1963-67; Avery 1994. The rather more venerable Blanck 1956 is also still useful). A good example of the way in which well-focused critical bibliography can make excellent analytical cultural history is Sarah Kennerly’s exploration of the children’s books published by the Confederacy during the American Civil War (Kennerly 1957). Canadian children’s literature in English is well served by Sheila Egoff and Judith Saltman’s The New Republic of Childhood (Egoff and Saltman 1990), though its generic rather than chronological organisation makes it difficult to handle as a bibliography. The scholarly journal Canadian Children’s Literature has carried a number of useful bibliographic articles, such as those on Canadian children’s poetry (Stanbridge 1986) and on British Columbian children’s literature (Kealy 1994). For its part, the Mexican tradition has been traced by Beatriz Donet and Guillermo Murria Prisant’s Palabra de juguete, a two-volume bibliography and anthology which seeks to place Mexican children’s literature from the pre-Hispanic and colonial periods to the twentieth century in its international contexts (Donet and Prisant 1999, in Spanish). The children’s literature of each Central and South American nation is thoroughly described in the separate sections of Manuel Pena Munoz’s recent Habia una vez - en America. Literatura Infantil de America Latina (Munoz 1997, in Spanish). A number of other checklists cover children’s books about Hispanic culture. Although they were originally intended to aid parents and teachers to locate appropriate books for young Hispanic-American readers, they have now become useful bibliographic tools for those carrying out research into the children’s books of the second half of the twentieth century (see for example Schon 1980). The same might be said of several American-published bibliographies of children’s books about, rather than from, the Soviet Union (Povsic 1991), Eastern Europe (Povsic 1986), the Indian subcontinent (Khorana 1991) and Africa (Schmidt 1975-9; Khorana 1994). Designed to make ‘books about other countries available to American youth’ so as to deepen their ‘understanding of the international community’, these contain only books published in English, since 1900, most of which were published in the USA (Povsic 1991: xi). They may not actually represent the children’s literature of these different regions, but they do open up new fields of enquiry to the researcher.

Bibliographies of books for children actually published in Africa, the Middle East and Asia are rare. Useful information on the former can be found in the recent Companion to African Literatures (Killam and Rowe 2000: 63-7) and J. O. U. Odiase’s African Books for Children and Young Adults, a basic checklist of books for children published in Africa from the 1960s to the 1980s (Odiase 1986). Naturally, no bibliography on a continental scale exists for Asia, and only one or two bibliographies exist on the national scale (for the Philippines, for example, see Serina and Yap 1980). An excellent review of the way in which Confucian primers gave way to more ideologically invested and Western-influenced children’s books in China is to be found in Mary Ann Farquhar’s Children’s Literature in China. Even if the book is not a bibliography as such, its analysis of the artistic and political content of inter-war, Revolutionary and Maoist children’s books rests upon a solid survey of twentieth-century Chinese books for children (Farquhar 1999; see also Cohn 2000). No such work exists as yet for other regions of Asia, although there is much to be gleaned from those works cited in the relevant sections in this Encyclopedia. Even Japan lacks a national children’s literature bibliography (but Kitano 1967, Shimi 1987 and Herring 2000 are useful). Bibliographic and historical work has been undertaken on Indian children’s literature, although, because of the ethnic diversity of the country, these have been faced with the almost impossible task of summarising the history of fourteen separate traditions, one for each main linguistic grouping. From Provash Ronjan Dey’s Children’s Literature of India, for instance, we learn that Urdu and Telegu children’s literature began in the mid-nineteenth century, while the first children’s books written in Tamil or Punjabi, say, did not appear until the 1930s (Dey 1977; see also Manorama Jafa’s ‘Children’s Literature in India’ in Dasgupta 1995: 33-42).

In fact, children’s literature can often be most profitably surveyed and investigated on the basis of language rather than nation. The more than 300 children’s books published in Hebrew listed in Uriel Ofek’s Hebrew Children’s Literature, for instance, extend over the period 1506 to 1905, but, perhaps more strikingly, they also span several continents (Ofek 1979, in Hebrew). Bibliography, which can follow the flight of texts across political boundaries, has a significant role to play in illuminating the full extent and complexity of the web of influences which have lain behind the development of children’s literature. In a sense, national bibliographies, though the reasons for constructing them have been extremely cogent, have prevented us from seeing this web of connections. Most national bibliographers worth their salt know full well that one cannot map the history of children’s literature in one country without reference to others. The story of British and French children’s literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for instance, is, in miniature, the history of political and social ideas and their transmission, of the French Enlightenment and the commercial revolution in Britain, of the French Revolution and the pious and loyal conservative reaction to it in Britain. A comparative approach, exploring the points of contact and of discrepancy between these two literary traditions, rather than concentrating just on one nation or the other, would be a fascinating task. A bibliographical survey tracing the congruities and disruptions in the interchange of ideas on children’s books across the English Channel would be the necessary starting point. So far no such work has been undertaken.

Regrettably, even the bibliography of particular genres of children’s books, which could be the perfect vehicle for tracing international connections, seldom manages to overcome national borders. Children’s fantasy stories, for example, were widely traded between countries. Yet in recent bibliographies of the genre as it developed in the Anglo-American tradition, very few references are made to translations or alterations of the texts once exported, nor to the foreign books which either inspired the Anglo-American texts or were themselves inspired by them (on fantasy literature see Pflieger 1984; Lynn 1995; Manlove 1996; and Barron 1999). The same is true of the one, otherwise excellent, bibliography of boys’ stories by Eric Quayle, which only gives the merest hint that children’s literature was developing along similar trajectories in nations besides Britain and America (Quayle 1973; on a similar theme see James and Smith 1998). The lack of comparative work is particularly striking when Quayle discusses the militaristic narratives which flourished in Britain in the first three decades of the twentieth century. Were such stories also being written and read in Germany or France or Russia, one cannot help wondering? Likewise, recent encyclopedias of girls’ and boys’ school stories provide valuable guides to the genres, arranged alphabetically by author with many entries including a diligently researched bibliography, but they do not attempt to leap over political borders. The Encyclopaedia of Girls’ School Stories refers only to books from Britain, Australia and New Zealand, along with a few works by North American authors ‘who consciously wrote in the British tradition’ (Sims and Clare 2000: 38). The Encyclopaedia of Boys’ School Stories, though it expands the chronological range of books covered, includes only British books (Kirkpatrick 2000; see also Kirkpatrick 2001). Other regions of the world produced a different kind of school story, we are told, but the connections and discrepancies, though they are surely one of the most interesting aspects of this kind of project, are not investigated.

The reason for this is clear: bibliographical work requires a huge amount of toil, which must somehow be circumscribed. The Encyclopaedia of Girls’ School Stories has six pages of bibliographic detail on the books of Elinor M. Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School series alone, for instance, while Robert Kirkpatrick devotes five closely packed pages to the books of Charles Hamilton (alias Frank Richards) - original, re-written, re-printed, serialised and pseudonymous (Sims and Clare 2000: 75-81; Kirkpatrick 2000: 153-8). When an international approach is undertaken, however, the rewards are obvious. Ruth B. Bottigheimer’s survey of children’s Bibles covers five centuries but also several countries, most especially the German and the Anglo-American traditions (Bottigheimer 1996). Both Bottigheimer’s analysis of the texts and the bibliographical work upon which her study is founded enable the reader to assess not only change over time, but also, by comparisons across geographical boundaries, the specific characteristics of each nation’s understanding of the way the scriptures should be presented to children. (For a survey of post-war religious writing for children, almost entirely American, see Pearl 1988.) Similarly, the best of the several bibliographies of the writing of Mark Twain stands out because it traces the dissemination of his writing around the world. Bibliography is at its most provocative when it tells us, for instance, that a new edition of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer has been put out in Argentina almost every year since the 1930s, that Extracts from the Diary of Adam and Eve, first published by Twain in 1906, had appeared in Yiddish in Warsaw by 1913, or that a Marathi Prince and the Pauper was the first of Twain’s works to be published in India, in 1908 (Rodney 1982: 220-4, 190, 240. For a more standard Twain bibliography see Johnson 1935).

Other generically based bibliographies have examined an eclectic range of subjects: movable and toy books (Haining 1979), pop-up books (Montanaro 2000), British ABCs (Garrett 1994), American etiquette books (Bobbitt 1947), ‘Cries of London’ books (Shesgreen and Bywaters 1998), children’s miniature libraries (Alderson 1983), plays published for toy theatres (Speaight 1999), fairy tales (Opie and Opie 1974), historical fiction for children (Moffat 2000) and British children’s periodicals (Drotner 1988, and see also Grey 1970 on the very first The Lilliputian Magazine). Recent generic bibliographies designed to enable teachers and parents to find books to educate their children according to specific agendas may be of little help to historians of children’s literature today, but in time they will provide a valuable resource for scholars researching the culture of childhood in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Bibliographies are now available, to take one or two examples, of children’s books with gay and lesbian themes (Day 2000), of children’s books about war and peace (Eiss 1989), and of books dealing with World War II (Holsinger 1995). The more bibliographers concentrate on these narrow areas, however, the more the existence of wide tracts of uncharted territory becomes manifest. We have, say, a sturdy bibliography of children’s books dealing with Ancient Greece and Rome, from 1834 to 1994 (Brazouski and Klatt 1994), but we have no catalogues of some of the major, long-standing genres such as animal stories, or the legends of the Seven Champions of Christendom, or Sinbad. There are also few bibliographies of those under-appreciated books which kept the children’s book trade alive: religious works and textbooks. So long as these fields go unsurveyed, we will not be able to understand how children’s publishing established itself as a sustainable commercial enterprise, nor what was the whole reading experience of the average child. With regard to textbooks, at least, the situation is starting to improve. Numerous articles exploring neglected aspects of textbook history have been published in Paradigm, the journal of the new Textbook Colloquium (see http://w4.ed.uiuc.edu/faculty/westbury/Paradigm/index.htm) and one or two print and on-line bibliographies have begun to appear (Price 1992 for textbooks used in New Zealand before 1960; Woodward et al. 1988, which lists mostly post-1975 textbooks; Palmer 2002 for science textbooks).

The contrast between the excellent bibliographical work which has been undertaken, and the huge areas of children’s literature which have not been explored, is also obvious when we consider how bibliographers have treated individual authors. A favoured few have been the subject of exhaustive bibliographic work. Lewis Carroll’s output, for instance, had been thoroughly catalogued by the 1920s (‘the age of bibliographies’, as Carroll’s bibliographer put it: Williams 1924: vii). By the 1980s, a checklist of works about Carroll’s writing could fill a substantial volume on its own (Guiliano 1981). With little left to catalogue, the minutiae of Carroll’s letters to the press have now become the subject of their own annotated bibliography (Lovett 1999). The works of Beatrix Potter and Lucy Maud Montgomery have also been exhaustively explored (Linder 1971, and Hobbes and Whalley 1985 on Potter; Russell et al. 1986, and Garner and Hawker 1989 on Montgomery’s books, Izawa 2002 on her Japanese editions - there have been 123 Japanese editions of Anne of Green Gables in the last fifty years - and Elizabeth Rollings Epperly on her manuscripts, in Rubio 1994: 74-83). Also well served, to varying extents, have been J. M. Barrie (Cutler 1931; Markgraf 1989), A. A. Milne (Haring-Smith 1982), Robert Louis Stevenson (Slater 1914; Prideaux 1917), Louisa May Alcott (Ullom 1969), Arthur Ransome (Hammond 2000; Wardale 1995), Richmal Crompton (Schutte 1993; and see also Cadogan with Schutte 1990) and Maurice Sendak (Hanrahan 2001). In recent years, other children’s writers, mostly British, have begun to have their work explored in detail, and not only squarely canonical authors either. Mary Martha Sherwood (Cutt 1974), George MacDonald (Shaberman 1990) and Barbara Hofland (Butts 1992) have become the subjects of full-length studies, for example.

Many other eminent children’s authors have not been so fortunate. Can it really be, one wonders, that the only bibliography of C. S. Lewis’s work is a privately printed pamphlet by Aidan Mackey (Mackey 1991)? In one or two cases authors who have not so far been honoured with single volume-length bibliography have had their output logged by periodical articles. Maria Edgeworth’s very confusing publishing history, for example, has occupied many pages of that august bibliographic journal, The Book Collector (Colvin and Morgenstern 1977; Pollard 1971; Renier 1972; Schiller 1974a. For a summary see the essay on Edgeworth at the Hockliffe Project website: Grenby 2001). Other authors have benefited from having a dedicated admirer research their work and publish the results wherever the opportunity has been offered. The newsletter of the Children’s Books History Society has made many such offers, and almost every issue includes an intriguing bibliography of a minor children’s author. Morna Daniels has lovingly listed and discussed the Josephine books by Mrs H. C. Cradock, for instance, while Mary Shakeshaft and Betty Gilderdale have done the same for two prolific late nineteenth-century authors, Charlotte Yonge and Lady Barker (Daniels 2002; Shakeshaft 2001; Gilderdale 2001). From time to time - and especially in the heyday of the early 1970s - the more prestigious bibliographical periodicals have also carried articles about children’s authors or individual children’s books. Usually these concern only well-known authors and titles. Thus, for instance, the work of A. A. Milne has been mapped in Studies in Bibliography (1970), and Little Black Sambo in The Book Collector (Schiller 1974b). A few key texts have been privileged by having specialist work conducted into detailed aspects of their history. The fate of Hans Christian Andersen’s Eventyr in Britain has been delineated by Brian Alderson, for example, and Nina Demourova has provided a summary of the career of Peter Pan in Russia (Alderson 1982; Routh and Demourova 1995: 19-27). Some of the important foundational texts of British children’s literature have also been the subject of minute investigation, such as Thomas Boreman’s Gigantick Histories (Stone 1933) and John Newbery’s Goody Two-Shoes (Roberts 1965). Overall, though, only a small fraction of British children’s authors have been charted, let alone those from other parts of the world.

The single bibliography which perhaps best illuminates when and how children’s literature became established as a proliferating and profitable genre is not a catalogue of the works of an individual author, but of a single work: Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (Lovett 1991). In the 1750s, we find, a new edition of this (admittedly exceptional) children’s book appeared every year or two. By 1800, the British and American markets could bear four or five editions annually. By the end of the nineteenth century there were likely to be at least eight or nine British and American printings each year (see also Stach 1991 for a bibliography of German-language Robinsonnades). No similarly complete bibliography has been completed for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (although see Teerink and Scouten 1963), but a number of other single works have been honoured with their own bibliographies, notably Struwwelpeter, whose complete publishing history has been traced several times (most recently by Chester 1987, and Ruhle in 1999, in German). It is also worth noting that bibliographies of authors who wrote mostly for adults can be useful to those studying children’s reading. Sir Walter Scott, for example, wrote only one work specifically for children (Tales of a Grandfather), but as well as listing the many editions of this, a recent bibliography of Scott’s work suggests that many chapbook and dramatic versions of his works quickly appeared, probably directed largely at the children’s market (Todd and Bowden 1998).

As has already been mentioned, one of the factors inhibiting bibliographic work on children’s books has been the fact that, for so much of its history, particularly in Britain, the production and character of children’s literature have been governed by the operations of publishers rather than the talent of writers (Alderson 1977: 206). This being the case, there are limits to what bibliographies of individual authors can achieve, especially when dealing with the books of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Consequently, bibliographers have adapted, and some of the best surveys of children’s literature to appear recently have examined the output of individual publishing houses. The first of these ground-breaking works was Sydney Roscoe’s bibliography of the production of John Newbery and his successors (Roscoe 1973; see also Townsend 1994). Peter Opie, the doyen of children’s book collection, thought Roscoe’s work enabled the study and collection of children’s books to ‘come of age’ (Opie 1975: 259). Even before Roscoe, M. J. P. Weedon had already examined the business dealings of John Marshall, one of the generation of booksellers to follow John Newbery (Weedon 1949). It has been the annotated checklists compiled by Marjorie Moon which have done most to open up the study of early nineteenth-century British children’s books. Her bibliographies of the children’s books published by Benjamin Tabart and by John Harris have set new standards (Moon 1990, 1992). Even more so than Roscoe, Moon produced not merely lists of books, but succeeded in focusing interest on particular approaches to children’s books adopted in the early 1800s, the extent and importance of which had previously been neither explored nor explained. This kind of work continues with Lawrence Darton’s checklist of the children’s books, games and educational aids published by his ancestors’ famous Quaker publishing house (Darton 2003; see also David 1992).

Alongside the major publishing houses like Harris and Darton, many much smaller operations were also producing children’s books in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These are beginning to be investigated, the firm run by the Godwins receiving particular attention - perhaps because of the notoriety of William Godwin, its co-proprietor and leading author, as much as for its contribution to children’s literature (Kinnell 1988; Alderson 1998; William St Clair, ‘William Godwin as Children’s Bookseller’ in Avery and Briggs 1989: 165-79). The publishing activities of Joseph Cundall (McLean 1976), James Burns (Alderson 1994) Thomas Tegg (Barnes and Barnes 2000), the Religious Tract Society (Alderson and Garrett 1999) and, somewhat later, Blackie and Son (Daniels 1999) have also begun to receive attention. Much of the activity in the British children’s book trade in the period was located in the provinces rather than London. Much of what was produced there is now generally considered under the heading of ‘chapbooks’, that is to say, fairy tales, fables and popular stories and verses, generally only eight or sixteen pages long. Few copies of these delicate books have survived, which has made the bibliographers’ task difficult. A few studies have been attempted, however. The output of Lumsden of Glasgow, Kendrew of York and Davison of Alnwick has been catalogued as far as has been possible (Roscoe and Brimmell 1981; Davis 1988; Isaac 1968 and 1996). Other books celebrating the chapbook literature of various local enterprises are less scholarly but still give a flavour of what was produced by small, provincial presses, Edward Pearson’s compendium of woodcuts from the firm of Rusher of Banbury for instance (Pearson 1890). A number of websites, often showing images of the holdings of research libraries and with searchable catalogues, are also useful in pinning down the history of this ephemeral literature (Lilly Library: Elizabeth W. Ball Collection).

Often chapbooks lack even a publisher’s imprint, so that would-be bibliographers are denied such basic tools of their trade as a publisher’s name and location, let alone a date of publication. When this happens it has sometimes proved possible to trace the use and reuse of the wood-blocks from which the illustrations were printed, and thereby to deduce roughly from when a particular edition dates. In fact, the development of children’s book illustration has raised its own bibliography. Several outlines have been produced, notably Whalley and Chester’s History of Children’s Book Illustration (1988; see also Muir 1971/1985; Whalley 1974; Gottlieb 1975; Ray 1976; Martin 1989), while The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators (Horne 1994) remains a standard reference work. There are useful volumes on American (Mahoney et al. 1947 et seq.) and Australian art (Muir 1982). More specialised studies have been produced of individual illustrators, including, among others, C. E. and H. M. Brock (Kelly 1975), Heath Robinson (Lewis 1973), William Nicholson (Campbell 1992) and Thomas Bewick, whose output has been exhaustively catalogued by Sidney Roscoe (Roscoe 1953). Remarkably, Roscoe’s work on Thomas Bewick has now been eclipsed by Nigel Tattersfield’s outstanding biography and bibliography of the younger and less celebrated of the Bewick brothers, John (Tattersfield 2001). Because John Bewick specialised in illustrating children’s books, and because Tattersfield’s study draws upon Bewick’s own ledger of commissions, this is a bibliography which provides a unique insight into the mechanics of children’s book publishing at the turn of the nineteenth century. Another bibliographic approach sometimes adopted has been to review the changing illustrations to a single text. Segolene Le Men, for example, has surveyed the history of illustrations for the Mother Goose stories from their first publication in 1697 to the editions interpreted by Gustave Dore in the later nineteenth century (Le Men 1992). Chris Routh has given an account of the illustrated editions of Peter Pan (Routh and Demourova 1995: 2-19).

It is clear, then, that there is a long way to go before bibliographical foundations are fully laid. The children’s literatures of many parts of the world have not been charted in any detail and there has been little attempt to survey children’s literature across national boundaries. Indeed, it is still the case that many important library holdings of children’s books have not been catalogued (for a list of special collections see Jones 1995). Even some of the most notable collections in the UK and North America have been only partially indexed. The catalogues for the Renier Collection at the National Art Library in London (the largest in Britain), the Opie Collection in Oxford University’s Bodleian Library and the Cotsen Collection at Princeton University (the largest American holding) are all only now under construction, the former two on-line, the latter in print form (Cotsen Collection 2000). When completed, they will join the on-line catalogue of the Lilly Library at Indiana University (for a description see Johnson 1987) and what remains the best available printed catalogue, that of the Osborne Collection in Toronto (St John 1975; still only partly on-line), as tremendously useful bibliographic resources, especially for Anglo-American material. The libraries of private collectors generally remain a much more firmly closed book (but see Alderson and Moon 1994, and Clive Hurst’s examination of Peter Opie’s accession diaries in Avery and Briggs 1989: 19-44).

On the other hand, it must also be obvious that reports of the death of children’s literature bibliography have been exaggerated. This essay, though it has listed almost 200 books, articles and websites, does not pretend to be an exhaustive list of the bibliographical sources currently available, and - hopefully - it will soon be out of date. Bibliographical works are still appearing. Progress is being made in cataloguing public collections. Both catalogues and bibliographies can now reach unprecedentedly large audiences, can be updated far more easily, and can be produced far more cheaply, because of the advent of the internet. Literary criticism has not killed off bibliography. Those who say that arrival of children’s books in university literature departments, and the consequent ascendancy of literary criticism, is undermining bibliography might do well to remember that, in its own time, even Sydney Roscoe’s magisterial bibliography of the Newberys’ children’s books, and other such ‘new tools being provided for the study of children’s literature’, caused some ‘disquiet’ to Peter Opie, the doyen of early children’s book collecting (Opie 1975: 263-4). Opie feared that Roscoe’s too-useful study would deny collectors like himself the pleasure of making their own discoveries and perhaps open up the field to new, less personally erudite, and less amateur, buyers. In fact, Roscoe’s work was in itself a great contribution to children’s book scholarship, and inspired many more.

So too will the university-led study of children’s books - in its turn a new ‘professionalisa- tion’ of the field - enable us to understand more about children’s literature. Critical, theoretical and historical approaches to children’s books, as well as pedagogical and library-orientated studies, have all contributed to what we know about which books were published for children and when - the goals of bibliography. They have also made good bibliographic work more necessary than ever. If the study of children’s literature is to continue and mature, it will surely be necessary for all these approaches to children’s literature to advance together.

 

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Renier, A. (1972) ‘Maria Edgeworth’s The Parent’s Assistant 1796, First Edition: An Unrecorded Copy of Part II, Vol. II’, The Book Collector 21: 127-8.

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Welch, d’A. (1972) A Bibliography of American Children’s Books Printed Prior to 1821, Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society/Barre Publishers.

Whalley, J. I. (1974) Cobwebs to Catch Flies: Illustrated Books for the Nursery and Schoolroom, 1700-1900, London: Elek.

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