Part II. Forms and genres
37. Historical fiction
Historical fiction, paradoxically, must be based on fact, which makes it different from other fiction. Its task is more difficult because of that mixture; having said that, it must be like other fiction by creating a world into which the reader can be drawn, a credible world with characters he or she can relate to, the only difference being that the world is the past.
It is not enough to know the facts to write such a story; the difficulty is to place them in the plot, so that the historical background is clear, the place is evident, and any unfamiliar terms are self-explanatory. There is the great problem of the language the characters speak; modern idioms cannot be used, neither can ‘gadzookery’; both can easily destroy a carefully created atmosphere. Many writers overcome this by a rearrangement of the words, which has the effect of making the prose sound authentic without being incomprehensible; for example Joan W. Blos in A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-1832 (1979):
I Catherine Cabot Hall aged 13 years 6 months 29 days, of Meredith in the state of New Hampshire, do begin this book. It was given to me yesterday, my father returning from Boston Massachusetts, where he had gone ahead to obtain provisions for the months ahead. My father’s name is Charles, Charles Hall; I am daughter also of Hannah Cabot Hall, dead of a fever these four long years.
(Blos 1979: 5)
The field can be divided into two categories: those books which use real historical figures and those whose characters are wholly imaginary. A device often used is to tell the story of a real figure, for example King Alfred (King of England 871-99), through the eyes of an invented character such as in C. Walter Hodges’ The Namesake (1964). Other stories contain glimpses of real figures, for example Lord Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell (generals in the English Civil War 1642-9) in Simon (1957) by Rosemary Sutcliff. In the early years of the genre, real figures appeared frequently, but increasingly, as the emphasis has moved from political to social history, lives of ordinary and imaginary people have been told.
Some writers, for example Cynthia Harnett, used a wealth of detail to make the story live; others, such as Gillian Avery, use characterisation and leave an impression of the period; a few like Rosemary Sutcliff paint so vivid a picture with words that the reader can almost inhabit the past. A sense of place is vital and it is notable that the great writers in this genre have made a particular place their own: in the UK, Rosemary Sutcliff - Hadrian’s Wall and the Sussex Downs; Barbara Willard - Ashdown Forest; Hester Burton - Suffolk; and in the USA, Laura Ingalls Wilder - the prairies. Political views can colour a book, often to its advantage, witness Geoffrey Trease’s stories of revolution. Illustrations are more important than in most other genres, adding as they can to the period flavour, and in many books a map is vital (although often missing!).
There are writers, and Leon Garfield is the best example, who write of the past but not in a way that can be considered as pure historical fiction. Anthea Bell in Twentieth Century Children’s Writers states that ‘history sits lightly on these novels’ (Kirkpatrick 1978: 313). Garfield’s characters inhabit a world lightly drawn from the eighteenth century, but his chief concern is with them and not the period. He has set his own standards and defies categorisation.
Historical fiction is a genre in which many of the best stories in English for children have been written; for example, A Thousand for Sicily (Geoffrey Trease, 1965), The Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1932), The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Speare, 1962), The Machine Gunners (Robert Westall, 1975), The Eagle of the Ninth (Rosemary Sutcliff, 1954), The Stronghold (Mollie Hunter, 1974) and Viking’s Dawn (Henry Treece, 1955).
Most historical fiction for children has so far been written in English but other countries have produced notable books in the genre, many of which have been translated into English, thus reaching a wider audience who may well be unaware of their origins. As early as 1837 Aleksandra Ishimova was writing stories of Russian history for children.
In Britain before the 1930s, historical novels were written largely for adults, with one or two noticeable exceptions, such as Captain Marryat’s The Children of the New Forest (1847). Sir Walter Scott, Charles Kingsley and Robert Louis Stevenson wrote historical adventures much enjoyed by adults and children alike. G. A. Henty wrote adventure stories for boys from 1881 onwards which were intensely patriotic and full of daring deeds. They read stiffly now and some of the political sentiments expressed are no longer fashionable. Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906) was and still is much admired. Rosemary Sutcliff freely admitted her debt to Kipling and his influence on her writing can be seen in the rich prose she used. These early books were in the main adventures or historical romances, rather than attempts to create a living past.
In 1934 Geoffrey Trease wrote Bows against the Barons and changed the nature of the genre. He painted a picture of a man fighting injustice and oppression, not the swashbuckling Robin Hood of legend but a revolutionary character, a real living person who just happened to be from the past, full of colour and vigour. Many of Trease’s stories are historical adventures, but this title and several others of his vast output are much more than that. Trease’s left-wing views permeated his writing and his best stories burn with revolutionary zeal. It is difficult not to rush out and join Garibaldi (1807-82, liberator of Sicily from Naples) after reading Follow My Black Plume (1963)! Trease’s considerable output was always well researched; a great many of his stories involve a journey by a young man, usually accompanied by a girl who is often disguised as a boy. The best of these is The Red Towers of Granada (1966), which has a bold dramatic opening and a journey from Nottingham to Toledo, full of detail and colour against the background of the treatment of Jews and lepers.
In the USA at around the same time (1932), The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder was published. This first book of a magnificent series told the story of Wilder’s family’s move west in the late nineteenth century. The stories are full of the details of everyday life, the fight for survival in which the provision and preparation of food dominate. The Long Winter (1940) makes the reader see the snow on the bedcovers and feel the lethargy the long intense cold of the prairie winter brings. The children grow as the series progresses, which makes the series even more realistic. Elizabeth Coatsworth also wrote of settlers, but Away Goes Sally (1934) is a more comfortable story of a house being moved on runners in a Maine winter. Although there are other stories about Sally they do not have the sweep of the Wilder stories.
The Newbery Medal, awarded to the best children’s book published in the USA each year, had already been awarded to historical fiction in 1929 to Eric P. Kelly for The Trumpeter of Krakow, telling in stately prose of an episode in Polish history, and in 1936 it was awarded to Carol Rylie Brink for Caddie Woodlawn, another pioneer story. (It is interesting to compare this book with the Wilder stories and note the same preoccupation with food, in this case turkeys.) In 1943 Elizabeth Janet Gray won with Adam of the Road, a lively tale of Chaucerian England (late fourteenth century), which today lacks a period feel, and Esther Forbes won in 1944 with Johnny Tremain. Like Trease’s Bows against the Barons, this book dealt with revolution, in this case the American War of Independence (1774-81), and the complex background is slowly drawn behind the story of Johnny’s gradual involvement in the conflict.
In Germany, the 1950s saw the publication of Hans Baumann’s carefully researched historical novels, including Son of Columbus (1951), Sons of the Steppe (1957) and The Barque of the Brothers (1958). In Britain the 1950s saw the flowering of different talents who were to dominate the scene, and during this period three authors won the Carnegie Medal awarded by the Library Association (now CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). Cynthia Harnett won for The Woolpack in 1951, Ronald Welch for Knight Crusader in 1954 and Rosemary Sutcliff for The Lantern Bearers in 1959.
Cynthia Harnett’s interest was in the everyday life of ordinary people and it is this wealth of detail which make her books so interesting, if at times a little indigestible. The Writing on the Hearth (1971) has witchcraft and sorcery, as well as politics, and the reader also sees the growth of the colleges of Oxford University. William Caxton (c. 1421-91) appears in A Load of Unicorn (1959), a story of resistance to change by the scriveners to his newfangled printing methods. Rosemary Sutcliff began her writing career with The Queen Elizabeth Story (1950), followed by The Armourer’s House (1951) and Brother Dusty-Feet (1952), the first of her stories to deal with the friendship between young men. The Eagle of the Ninth (1954) is based on two episodes of Romano-British history, using which she constructed her picture of the British tribes under a Roman army of occupation, and in which the greatness of her talent emerges. There is another portrait of a friendship, this time between Esca, the freed slave, and Marcus the legionary, who together go north to find the lost eagle of Marcus’s father’s regiment; there is also what becomes from this point on a recurring theme, that of a young man coping with some kind of handicap. The Silver Branch (1957) and The Lantern Bearers (1959), linked stories, continue these themes, the latter being almost an adult book in which Aquila overcomes the bitterness at his father’s murder and the abduction of his sister, and comes to maturity alongside the beginning of Britain.
Rosemary Sutcliff had a talent for making the past come alive through her descriptions, dialogue and a sense of place. In a few words she painted the landscape for the reader, for example, ‘the wind from the east laying the moorland grasses all over one way’ (1959: 133). Many of the books are set in the north of England, on Hadrian’s Wall, but she also memorably used the Sussex Downs in Warrior Scarlet (1958) and Knight’s Fee (1960). Carolyn Horowitz talks about Rosemary Sutcliff’s
acute sense of place ... a feeling of belonging to a certain landscape becomes a vital part of the plot structure. By the time the novel is finished the reader feels homesick, not only for a certain essence of country and climate, but for another time.
(Horowitz 1969: 142)
The brotherhood of men fighting a common enemy features in Blood Feud (1976) and Frontier Wolf (1980); a rare heroine appears in A Song for a Dark Queen (1978), Boadicea’s (or Boudicca, fl. c. AD 60) story told in subtly singing story by her harper. Often from a few known facts Rosemary Sutcliff created a past so vivid that she stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Ronald Welch also wrote of battles but as a military historian. In his best book Knight Crusader (1954), the complicated political background of the Crusades (1096-1270) is well set, but it is the scorching heat of the Middle East on knights in full armour that the reader remembers. Welch wrote a number of stories of young men under fire, from bows and arrows to tanks.
Henry Treece made the Vikings very much his own field. This is a subject no one else of stature has tackled. In three books covering the life of Harald Sigurdson, Viking’s Dawn (1955), The Road to Miklagard (1957) and Viking’s Sunset (1960), the ethos and brotherhood of the Vikings is expounded in a style especially evolved for the series. It is a little stiff to read until the reader is used to the rhythm of the prose. In The Queen’s Brooch (1966), he wrote a powerful and dramatic story of a Roman tribune involved in Boadicea’s uprising and subsequent defeat by Suetonius. This stands well alongside Rosemary Sutcliff’s stories of Roman Britain, although Treece’s is a less romantic view.
Gillian Avery chose a more recent period for her domestic comedies set in Victorian England (1837-1901), using the narrow confines of the lives of middle-class children to make sharp observations on their life. There is no wealth of detail in these books but a strong impression of what it was like to be a Victorian child. The Warden’s Niece (1957), in which Maria runs away to join her uncle who is warden of an Oxford college, and James without Thomas (1959) show her gifts to the full, her dialogue being particularly entertaining.
In 1956 Ian Serraillier was the first to use the Second World War and its aftermath in a story which has since become a classic, The Silver Sword. Based on fact, it tells of a journey across post-war Europe by four Polish children searching for their parents; a stark and heart-wrenching tale.
From the USA in 1950s came Rifles for Watie (1957) by Harold Keith, the story of Jeff, drawn into the American Civil War (1861-5) by high ideals, only to find that good, bad, right and wrong are more subtle concepts than he supposed. Across Five Aprils (1964) by Irene Hunt looks at the same subject from a different viewpoint, that of an Illinois farming family waiting for letters from the front. Both are moving accounts of the horror and muddle of war. Elizabeth George Speare won the Newbery Medal twice; first in 1959 with The Witch of Blackbird Pond, a portrayal of an independent girl in the fiercely Protestant New England of 1687, who befriends a Quaker accused of being a witch. It gives a fair picture of the bigotry of the time and the less-than-just rule from England. It was among the first and is still one of the best books on this subject. The second medal was won by The Bronze Bow in 1962, in which the author used the unusual setting of Israel at the time of Jesus, making it easy to understand the impact of Jesus’s teaching on a boy who is bitter at the death of his father at the hand of the Romans.
The 1960s and 1970s became known as the golden age of children’s literature in Britain, particularly for historical stories, but they also saw notable stories emerging from other countries. An Rutgers Van der Loeff’s stark story Children on the Oregon Trail (Netherlands 1961) spared no details of the hardships endured by the early settlers in the USA.
In the UK, Frederick Grice was one of the first to use twentieth-century history when he took the northern England of the 1920s for Bonnie Pit Laddie (1960), an episodic tale of a pit strike which brought a community to its knees. It tells of the ordinary working man, his poverty and hunger, with a raw sense of injustice reminiscent of Trease’s early work. Hester Burton took earlier injustice for Time of Trial (Carnegie Medal 1963), which tells of the trial and imprisonment of a bookseller in eighteenth-century London for his political views. It is a thoughtful book requiring maturity from the reader. No Beat of Drum (1966) is a sombre, harsh story of a labourer deported to Australia for his part in a demonstration to get better wages. As with Rosemary Sutcliff, a special countryside is important in Hester Burton’s work, in her case Suffolk with its vast skies. Her most vivid book is Castors Away! (1962). Although the focus is the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), it is above all a family story in which Tom goes off to war, and Nell is left to cope at home.
Barbara Willard made the Ashdown Forest in Sussex her own in the Mantlemass novels (set in between the end of the Wars of the Roses (1485) and c. 1700), taking women as her main characters, although as Margaret Meek states:
This is a period which seems to offer them only dependent roles. Dame Elizabeth, in the first book The Lark and the Laurel (1970), established the Mantlemass fortune and makes a woman of Cecily who becomes a legend in her turn. Catherine insists on choosing where her heart is. Ursula holds the family together when its fate is doubtful, and finally Cecilia rejects the New World and stays in the ruins with the prospect of a different kind of rebuilding. They are a formidable tribe expecting no pity or excuses, tender and loving and much more clear-sighted than the men. Above them towers Lilias, a Master of iron, more than a match for the men she works with and commands.
(Meek 1980: 805)
Through all the stories, the reader senses life driven on by the seasons, despite the great events going on outside the forest, which occasionally touch their lives like the ripples on a pond.
Scottish writer Mollie Hunter wrote graphically of her country’s history in The Ghosts of Glencoe (1966) and The Pistol in the Greenyards (1965), rearranging the words to give the rhythm of the Scottish tongue without the use of dialect. Her finest book is The Stronghold (Carnegie Medal 1974), in which she went back further in time to create her idea of how a broch, a stone fortress found only in the Orkney Islands, came to be built. Peter Hollindale points out that this book covers a moment when ‘history is altered by a single original mind’ (Hollindale 1977: 112). The hero, a crippled member of an early tribe, finds his distinction not in the traditional warrior field, but in the design of the stronghold which saves his tribe from the Roman invaders. The hold of the old religion of the Druids is powerfully described and the sacrificial scene is a high point in the story.
K. M. Peyton also began to write at this time and published three powerful stories of the sea and the Essex coast. Mrs Peyton won the Carnegie Medal for The Edge of the Cloud (1969) (the second of her Flambards trilogy), a romantic story of an Edwardian family (c. 1901-10). Windfall (1962), The Maplin Bird (1964) and Thunder in the Sky (1966) share a background of coastal waters and of the hand-to-mouth existence this life means. The third of these novels uses the transport of ammunition in the First World War as its backdrop. The sea and naval history do not seem to attract many writers for children and Mrs Peyton herself moved away from this subject to horses.
From Australia came a pioneering story, The Switherby Pilgrims (1967), in which Eleanor Spence tells of Arabella Braithwaite taking ten orphans from England to New South Wales in the 1820s. The hardships of the ‘better’ life are well drawn.
The Second World War also became a prominent subject. Hans Peter Richter’s chilling trilogy of life in Nazi Germany was published first in German in the 1960s and subsequently translated into English. Friedrich (1971), I Was There (1973) and The Time of the Young Soldiers (1976) tell the story of Hans, a German boy who first observes antiSemitism, then joins the Hitler Youth and serves in the army. These outstanding stories are told in a cold stark style which suit the subject exactly and are almost alone in dealing with this subject matter. The Second World War was also a constant theme for Austrian writers in the 1960s. Karl Bruckner in The Day of the Bomb (1961) told of the events of Hiroshima, and Winifred Bruckner in The Dead Angels (1963) and Kathe Recheis in The Net of Shadows (1965) wrote of the Warsaw Ghetto and concentration camps respectively.
From the other side of the English Channel, Jill Paton Walsh wrote of British experience during the war in The Dolphin Crossing (1967), about two boys from different backgrounds brought together by the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk; and Fireweed (1969) set in the London Blitz (1940), again examining class differences which separate a young couple. (Paton Walsh also wrote of other periods, memorably of the Plague in England in 1665, in A Parcel of Patterns (1983), in which the difficult language suits the period of the tragic true story of the village of Eyam.) The Machine Gunners (Carnegie Medal 1975), by Robert Westall, showed the effect of war on a group of youngsters in Newcastle in northern England. It is a raw, gutsy story about Chas, who finds a machine gun in a wrecked German aeroplane and decides to ‘have a go’ at the Germans. In a calm but no less telling style, David Rees recreated a night of bombing in Exeter in 1942 in The Exeter Blitz (Carnegie Medal 1978), in which Colin Lockwood is separated from his family and witnesses the destruction of the city from the cathedral tower. The low-key writing makes it all the more horrific. Susan Cooper also wrote realistically of the tension caused by the bombing and its effect on three children in Dawn of Fear (1972).
Carrie’s War (1973) was based on Nina Bawden’s own experience as a child evacuated from London in 1940, and paints a picture of an uncomfortable and unforgettable time. Other novels have a similar theme: In Spite of All Terror (1968) by Hester Burton and A Certain Courage (1975) by Gordon Cooper show different experiences of evacuation. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (1971) and its sequels The Other Way Round (1975) and A Small Person Far Away (1978) by Judith Kerr draw on her own experience as a refugee from Germany, in France, Switzerland and England. Elliot Arnold in A Kind of Secret Weapon (1970), with its passionate plea for resistance against tyranny, and Bright Candles (1974) by Nathaniel Benchley tell of the courage of Resistance workers in occupied Denmark. From the Netherlands and for a younger age group, Gertie Evenhuis showed Dirk’s endeavours to be part of his father’s work in the Resistance in What about Me? (1974). In Austria, Christine Nostlinger used her own childhood experiences for Fly Away Home (1973), telling of a child in Vienna at the end of the war, and of a girl who went to help a Jew in Guardian Ghost (1979).
In the 1970s, other subjects included Shakespeare’s theatre, which featured in two deep and literary stories by Antonia Forest, The Player’s Boy (1970), and The Player and the Rebels (1971) which make the plays and theatre of the time come alive. In Canada, Barbara Smucker wrote movingly of the underground railway for slaves using real historical figures in Underground to Canada (1977). In the UK, Gillian Cross dealt with the effect of the building of the railway on a small Sussex village where the hostility between the villagers and the navvies flares into violence in The Iron Way (1979). Peter Carter’s stark tale of the Peterloo Massacre (when a reform meeting in Manchester was attacked in 1819), The Black Lamp (1973), lacks the warmth to make it a rounded picture but clearly shows the resistance to change. American writer Paula Fox told in a series of economically worded episodes of one boy’s experience on a slave ship between Africa and America in The Slave Dancer (Newbery Medal 1974). The Suffragette movement of the early twentieth century was the topic of A Question of Courage (1975) by Marjorie Darke, a powerful and emotional story of a working-class girl caught up in it. Mildred C. Taylor wrote of her family’s life in Mississippi of the 1930s in her trilogy Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976), Let the Circle Be Unbroken (1981) and The Road to Memphis (1990). The dignity of the Logan family in the face of the bigotry they faced is magnificently drawn.
The 1980s saw a falling off in the writing of historical fiction; although Rosemary Sutcliff, Geoffrey Trease and Barbara Willard were still writing in the UK, there were few names coming along behind: an exception was Geraldine McCaughrean with A Little Lower than the Angels (1987), a rare look at medieval times. The Second World War still dominated subject-matter both in Britain and Europe. Michelle Magorian showed promise in Goodnight Mister Tom (1981), a story of an evacuee and his relation with the old man who took him in. A raw book, based on the last few months of Dr Janus Korczak in the Warsaw Ghetto, is Christa Laird’s Shadow of the Wall (1989), a quite outstanding recreation of courage. Elsie McCutcheon wrote Rat War (1985), a perceptive story of a boy conquering his fear, set in the stringencies of post-war Britain. Joan Lingard also wrote of the war in File on Fraulein Berg (1980), showing how easily fear leads to suspicion, and specifically of refugees in Tug of War (1989), and Between Two Worlds (1991), based on family history. Austrian Renate Welsh wrote of resistance to war in Thrown into the Scales (1988). In France, Claude Gutman wrote of David, a Polish Jew escaping the Nazis in Paris in The Empty House (Prix Sorcieres 1989). Uri Orlev, an Israeli, wrote in Hebrew The Island on Bird Street (1981), a story based on his own experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto.
American writers found subjects other than war; Pam Conrad’s Prairie Songs (1985), a book which minces no words in telling of the tragedy of the doctor’s wife in pioneering times who could not adjust to life in a ‘soddy’. Patricia Maclachlan wrote of another woman’s arrival in the American West in Sarah, Plain and Tall (Newbery Medal 1986), the story of a mail-order bride whose arrival is observed by Caleb and Anna in beautiful spare prose.
In the 1990s, Irish writer Marita Conlon-Mackenna told of the effects of the potato famine (1845-9) in Under the Hawthorn Tree (1990). Another Irish writer, Eilis Dillon, turned to the Second World War for a story of Jews fleeing Hungary in Children of Bach (1993), while Joan O’Neill wrote the first of a trilogy about experiences in Ireland during and after the war in Daisy Chain War (1990). Gudrun Pausewang’s The Final Journey (published in Germany in 1992) is a harrowing account of a journey to a death camp. The whole story is set within the confines of the railway truck. The Second World War continues to be a source of stories from writers around the world as it passes from living memory into history. Kit Pearson, a Canadian, in her trilogy The Sky is Falling (1989), Looking at the Moon (1991) and The Lights Go on Again (1993), about two English children who are evacuated to Canada, shows clearly the difficulties faced by the young boy on his return to England to the family he hardly knows. Michael Morpurgo in Waiting for Anya (1990) tells of how Jo’s village in the Pyrenees conspires to save the Jewish children hidden in the mountains around it, an exciting accessible story.
Other writers chose widely differing periods about which to write. Judith O’Neill, an Australian, wrote of emigration to Australia in the nineteenth century in So Far from Skye (1992), while Katherine Paterson, an American, went back to the Industrial Revolution in Massachusetts in her portrayal of a girl’s fight for better working conditions in Lyddie (1991). Also from the USA is Karen Cushman’s story of a feisty medieval girl trying to escape arranged marriages in Catherine Called Birdy (1996). Another American, Caroline Cooney, better known for contemporary stories, used fact in Mercy (2001), an outstanding story based on the trek by a group from the village of Deerfield, through the cold North American winter to Montreal, after being captured by the Indians.
Jamila Gavin also used fact in her book Coram Boy (2000), set in the eighteenth century and telling of the fate of illegitimate children. Gavin also wrote a trilogy about the partition of India, beginning with The Wheel of Surya (1994). Henrietta Branford’s unusual Fire Bread and Bone (1998), is a deceptively slight story set in 1381 at the time of the English Peasants’ Revolt, told through the eyes of a female dog. Kevin Crossley-Holland went back to the legends of King Arthur for his projected trilogy which begins with The Seeing Stone (2001). Frances Mary Hendry used the slave trade for Chains (2000), and Celia Rees turned to the Salem witch trials for Witch Child (2001).
There has been a distinct falling off in the number of historical stories published since the 1980s and in the UK the genre has been dominated by the perceived needs of the National Curriculum, resulting in short novels about the Victorians and Tudors, two of the periods covered at primary level. Many of the books mentioned in this essay could well be republished and introduced to a wider audience to meet this need.
However, there is cause for optimism, as writers all over the world are still telling stories which potentially illuminate the past for young people today.
Blos, J. W. (1979) A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journey, 1830-1832, New York: Scribner’s.
Hollindale, P. (1977) ‘World Enough and Time: The Work of Mollie Hunter’, Children’s Literature in Education 8, 3: 109-19.
Horowitz, C. (1969) ‘Dimensions in Time: A Critical View of Historical Fiction for Children’, in Field, E. W. (ed.) Horn Book Reflections, Boston: Horn Book.
Kirkpatrick, D. L. (ed.) (1978) Twentieth Century Children’s Writers, New York: St Martin’s Press. Meek, M. (1980) ‘The Fortunes of Mantlemass’, Times Literary Supplement, 18 July: 805.
Sutcliff, R. (1959) The Lantern Bearers, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Agnew, K. and Fox, G. (2001) Children at War: From the First World War to the Gulf (Contemporary Classics of Children’s Literature), London: Continuum.
Butts, D. (1977) Good Writers for Young Readers, London: Hart-Davis.
Egoff, S., Stubbs, G. T. and Ashley, L. F. (eds) (1969) Only Connect: Readings on Children’s Literature, Toronto: Oxford University Press.
Fisher, J. (1994) An Index of Historical Fiction for Children and Young People, Aldershot: Scolar Press.
Meek, M., Warlow, A. and Barton, G. (eds) (1967) The Cool Web: The Pattern of Children’s Reading, London: Bodley Head.
Sutcliff, R. (1983) Blue Remembered Hills, London: Bodley Head.
Trease, G. (1971) A Whiff of Burnt Boats, London: Macmillan.
- (1974) Laughter at the Door, London: Macmillan
Welch, R. (1972) ‘Attention to Detail: The Workbooks of Ronald Welch’, Children’s Literature in Education 8: 30-9.