A collection of essays based on the Children’s Books History Society study conference marking the bicentenary of the Religious Tract Society and the Lutterworth Press. The book analyses the children’s literature it produced, charting the development of the genre from the evangelical tract through to the popular school story, spanning the period from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. It shows how publishing worked within the context of a missionary society with a global reach.
The book details the nature and development of the tract genre both in Britain and America, before looking at the range of RTS and Lutterworth output of children’s titles, including its movement into magazine publishing. The work studies the two great magazines for which the RTS and Lutterworth were known to generations of children, the Boy’s Own Paper and the Girl’s Own Paper, as well as other magazines, such the The Child’s Companion. There are also chapters on popular tracts, such as The Dairyman’s Daughter, and successful authors, from Hesba Stretton and Mrs Walton to W.E. Johns and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
These essays explore how, in order to reflect an increasingly secular age, the subject matter widened, providing more non-fiction in its periodicals as well as an increasingly broad range of fiction, mostly secular in nature. It was also necessary for the Society to alter its didactically religious tone in order to present its Christian values with more subtlety.
With chapters on subjects as diverse as American religious tracts, boy’s school stories, secular publishing for girls and the presentation of gender roles, this collection is a major contribution to publishing history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Contributors include Brian Alderson, Mary Cadogan, Aileen Fyfe and Anne Thwaite.
List of Illustrations
1. A Short History of the Religious Tract Society / Aileen Fyfe
2. What is a Tract? / Ann Thwaite
3. The Golden Thread: Some Early Tract Writers / Dee Carter
4. The Dairyman’s Daughter: From Yesterday to Today / Alexandra N. Leach
5. American Religious Tracts and Children’s Spirituality / Vivia Lawton Fowler
6. The Child’s Companion and Our Little Dots / Michael Rupert Taylor
7. ‘A gifted author’ – Hesba Stretton and the Religious Tract Society / Suzanne Rickard
8. The Search for Mrs Walton and her World / Morna Daniels
9. Quicquid agunt pueri nostri farrago libelli (Whatever boys do is the subject of our little book):
The Boy’s Own Paper 1879-1967 / Dennis Butts
10. Different Schools of Thought – Other Stories for Boys / Robert J. Kirkpatrick
11. The Girl’s Own Paper (1880-1956) and The New Woman / Mary Cadogan
12. Twentieth-Century Secular Publishing for Girls / Hilary Clare and Sue Sims
13. The Lutterworth Bicentenary: The Publisher’s View / Adrian Brink
Postlude: The Universality of Tracts / Brian Alderson
A Sampling of Children’s Works Related to or Published by the Religious Tract Society, 1795-1943
Notes on Contributors
Endorsements and Reviews
In looking across so wide a period at one company, we get a unique glimpse into a wider world of contemporary publishing, authorship and readership. The papers from this conference have taken a long time to appear in print, but they have a lot to say about their chosen specialist field as well as wise points to make on a wider front.
The work covers some new ground and reworks some more familiar material in authoritative manner. Its densely packed pages contain a wealth of material. … Anyone with an interest in older children’s literature should ensure this is on their reading list.
Library & Information Update
This book is an extremely valuable contribution to the area of academic children’s literature studies. … This is a book I would highly recommend to those interested in the history of children’s literature, nineteenth-century studies, or the history of the book publishing history.
Children’s Literature Association Quarterly
… full of informative pieces on the publishing history of the Society. Between the the essays at beginning and at the end of the volume is the real meat: ten absorbing articles on different writers and types of writing published by RTS.
Children’s Books Ireland