Costumes in Contemporary Children's Literature: Country Trends


Figure 1.--Major advances in color lithography were mnade in the late 19th century which by the turn of the 20th century had made color plates in children's books economically feasible. American children's books were considerably enlivened with the appearance in the early 20th century of a remarkable number of brilliant illustrators, including many women. One of many such illustrators was Maris L. Kirk. This is one of her illustrations from "Mopsa the Fairy" (1919). Some like the one here were fantasy illustrations. Others books had decpictions of contempary clothing styles.

Children's literature is a relativly recent development. The earliest children's literature dates from the 19th century. Time lines vary from country to country. This literature provides a great deal of valuable information on clothing and life style trends. Here some cre has to be used as to the edition used. Some classic books have proved so popular that they have ben read over generations. Modern editors sometimes make changes designed to make the books more appealing to modern children. Often these changes are in the clothing and illustrations. These publications often include story lines, various comments, and illustrations which provide us insights on children's fashions. As these publications were often bought by boys, they often contained realistic depictyions as well as interesting expressions of what boys actually thought of the fashions of the day. This provides a very useful counterpoint to fashion publications which often showed how mothers wanted to dress boys rather than what the boys wanted or how they were actually dressed.

America

Children's narratives-fiction as well as non-fiction-pre-dated dime novels. Well before the Civil War, magazines for children offered heavily moralistic stories and features on history as well as current events, natural history, and other topics. The Civil War inspired northern writers for children, especially, to focus even more on exciting stories of adventure and peril, although the old values and standards were often conspicuously and tediously present. The leading producer of this guns and bugles genre of juvenile literature was Oliver Optic (William Adams), who wrote a number of books during the War, including the Army and Navy Trilogies (which were republished late in the century), and edited the Student and Schoolmate magazine. There were many multiple-volume productions, and many serialized stories that appeared in children's magazines were, later, published as novels (Optic's "Winning His Way" is one example that comes to mind). Although there were certainly war-related toys produced for children during the war, there was not a lot of cross-marketing, at least not much that I've found in my research. The juvenile magazines sometimes promoted other books and journals (if they were produced by the same publishers) and often offered "premiums" of subscriptions or small gifts (in the case of The Little Corporal, pictures of "Old Abe, the War Eagle") as rewards for selling subscriptions. I did come across an unusual piece of direct marketing of war-related items on the back pages of MAGNUS' UNIVERSAL PICTURE BOOKS, SERIES N. 1-12 (New York: Charles Magnus, 1863). Advertised were paper soldiers, maps, bird's-eye views of battlefields, lithographed battle scenes, patriotic stationary, and "Fifty Lithographed Games and Twenty Four Lithographed Picture Books," apparently somehow connected to the war. Major advances in color lithography were mnade in the late 19th century which by the turn of the 20th century had made color plates in children's books economically feasible. American children's books were considerably enlivened with the appearance in the early 20th century of a remarkable number of brilliant illustrators, including many women.

Australia

Most early children's books were imported from the United Kingdom. Australian boys read all of the English classic books for boys like A.A. Milne's Winnie The Pooh with Christoher Robin and J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. There were also children's books published in Australia. I'm not sure what the first such books were. An Australian reader mentions Little Folks (1897). After World War II (1939-45), American childrens books were increasingly read. A HBC reader remembers reading a series of American primary school books. There were Little Golden Books which are still around today. The Adelaide Prima was similar to the Wide Range Reader series of books. Some especially nice books were: The New Target Book For Boys, The Wonder Book, The Great Australian Childrens Book, and Our Boys Gift Book. here were also magazines for children. An Australian reader recalls: My Magazine. As in the U.K., boys' annuals were popular. A reader remembers: Eagle Annual, Tiger Annual, The Schoolboys Annual, and Blackies Boys Annual. The Schoolboys Annual was published into the 1970s, but as in the U.K. declined in popularity by the 1980s. There were also paton books. Foreign comic books were also very popular.

Belgium

We have little information on Belgian children's literature at this time. We do note an image of Belgian children in the early 20th century reading illustrated children's books. Some of these early books for younger children were not bound pages, but rather thick pages that opened up in a chain fashion althought they folded together in book form. We have seen similar books in Germany and other countries.

Canada

There are two literary traditions in Canada, English and French. The most famous English-language book is Anne of Green Gables, created one of the great child characters. A Quebec reader provides some informatin on French-language children's literature. "You will be surprised but there is no such tales like those we find in Britain or America (nursery rymess, etc). More, you will not find such things in France. Well, Sans famille is a story for children and also Jules Verne for older kids. Remembering myself my childhood (it was during World War II), I read Comtesse de Ségur (for girls), Jules Verne, and many other stories. Of course, Grimm, Madame D'Aulnoy, Perrault were my first books, but we do remember that those tales were written for adults first and were universal."

China

No information available yet.

England

Perhaps no country is more famous for its children's literature than England. Many figures in English literature have indeed emegd as some of the most famous boy characters in English literature (William Brown, Peter Pan, Christopher Robin, Jennings, and others). The authors (including Richmal Crompton, J.M. Barie, Enid Blyton, A.A. Milne, J.R. Rollings, and others) and illustrators of some of these books are often known around. There were also many popular annuals and monthly publications with stories by lesser know authors. Much of this literature in the late annd early 29th century was aimed at boys from comfortable if not affluent families. The standard was often boys attending expensive private schools. Since World War II (1939-45) the focus of English children's literature has change markedly and the target audience broadened considerably. We also note different kind of publications. The were monthlys and annuals and omnibus publications which might combine stories, comics, and activity suggestions.

France

We have very limited information on French's children's literature at this time. We are unsure if the French had periodical children's magazines as were so popular in England. We have noted that a popular series of books in the 1950s and 60s for younger readers was Signe de Piste. These books seem more focuded on boys than girls as they are primarily adventure stories. We also note many primary reading text books illustrated by Marcel Marlier. There were titles like Mary and Her Family and Mary’s Holidays. These look rather like the American Dick and Jane readers. Hopefully our French readers will provide us more information on French children's books.

Germany

We have little information on German children's literature at this time. We do note images of younger German children in the early 20th century reading illustrated children's books. Some of these early books for younger children were not bound pages, but rather thick pages that opened up in a chain fashion althought they folded together in book form. We have seen similar books in Germany and other countries. At this time we only have some limited information about Germany text books and children's books during the NAZI Third Reich era. We are not familiar with publications like the Boys' Own Paper in Germany or annuals. Our information, however, is very limited. Hopefully our German readers will provide some additional information so we can build a more ballanced few of German's children's literature. Readers may also want to look at the page on NAZI book buring. Children's books were also burned. One of the authors who had his books burned was Felix Salten who wrote the children's book "Bambi" that became a favorite Walt Disney movie.

Greece

Ancient Greek mythology and Aesop's fables are of course ell know to most of us. Modern Greek literature and even more, children's literature is practically unknown to English reader. While English and American childrn's literature is translated in many languages, foreign language material is much less available in America. We are thus always happy when our readers provide details on literature and other topics in their countries that is not readily available in English. Greek children's literature dates from the 1830s. A magazine for children (Children's Storeroom was published in 1836. [K. Delopoulos, 1989]. The number of books published for Greek children, however, has been very limited until recent years, especially the 1970s. For the most part children read adult books deemed suitable for them, such as Aesops Fables or other edifying works. Children's publications often included poetry. Patriotic historical books werre alo read by children. Greek 19th century literature often focused on patriotic historical, religious, and family themes, all of which were considered beneficial for children. Some of the importnt early authors of Greek children's books included Pericles Gianonopoulos, Iona Dragoumi, Penelope Delta, and Gregory Xenopoulos. Zacharias Papandoniou provided both prose and poetry for children. Alki Zei was one of the first important children's authors to address a new wave of Greek children's literature in the 1960s.

Italy

We of course know about the Itlalian classic Pinocchio. We know nothing else about Italian children's literature at this time. Unfortunately this is another area in which we have very little information. For some reason we have had more difficulty obtaining information on Italy than manyother countries. The only book that we have noted is a book about Italy written by an American author. Hopefully our Italian readers will provide us some information about children's literature.

(The) Netherlands

W have only limited information on Dutch children's literature. We do have some information about well known Dutch boy characters in literature. There were several important Dutch authors of children's books. Durch children, however, read many books from other countries, understanadable in a small country surrounded by much larger countries. Interestingly, English-language authors appear to have been more popular than German-language books. A Dutch reader tells us, "I myself loved to read Karl May's books on American Indians ("Winnetou", "Old Shatterhand". etc.).. They were very popular with Dutch boys when I grew up, along with the adventure books by the French author Jules Verne. We also read Mark Twain!"

New Zealand

We know virtually nothing about New Zealand children's book. Most New Zealand children grew up reading the British classics. I am not sure to what extent Ameriican books were read, but believe before World war II that it was mostly British books. Presumably there were some New Zealand authors. The only one know we know of at this time is Clare Mallory which was a pen name for Winifred McQuilkan who came from from Invercargill.

Russia

Russia until the Revolution (1917) was a multi-ethnic empire. This did not change with the Revolution, although some of the nationalities (Finland, Baltics, Poland, and areas of Romania), for a time exerted their indepdence. Even so Tsarist and Soviet literature was primarily, but not entirely Russian. We do not have any information on Tsarist children's literature, but we have collected information some information on Soviet children's literature. There were many wonderful stories published for children, some of which were beautifully illustrated. Some of the Soviet books had ideological content, but some were based on folk tales and could have been published during the Tsarist era. This varied over time influenced by Soviet political trends.

Serbia

We do not have much information on Serbian children's literature at this time, but have begun to collect some information. A reader in Serbia has sent some information about Serban authors and books. History is very important to Serbs. A popular Serbian children's book, A Book to Marko was written by Velmar Jankovic Svetlama in 1998. It was illustrated by Stankovski Vladimir. It is a collection of 7 stories about Serbian medieval monarchs and their childhood. We are not sure about the acuracy of the history involved. We also notice books about pets and other animals which are of course popular with children. A good example is a Kindergarten book, Nobody's Dog. It was written by Patricia Anjelcovish in 2001. It tells the story of a small child who finds a stray dog and becomes its friend so that ' Nobody's Dog' becomes ' Somebody's Dog. The illustrated page says. 'Some dogs are young like me.' the following page says,' Some dogs are old like my granny.'

South Africa

We have only limited information on South African children's literarure. A HBC reader from South Africa has provided a cover from an Afrikaans book--Die Hemelvoel. The title translates as "A Bird from Heaven" by Roelf van Rensburg. We have no information on thise book except for the cover illustration. Nor do yet have any information on othr Siouth African publications. The South African reader writes, "The sense of wonderment captured on the boy's tanned face is inspiring." One reader ponys out a charcteristic South african genre--the photo comic book.

Spain

No information available yet.

Sweden

We have very limited information on Sweden. A German reader, however, has mentiond the Swedish author Elsa Beskow (1874-1955) was Swedish. More of her books, however, have been sold in Germany than Sweden because Germany has a much larger population than Sweden. She made a lot of picture-books. Picture books of course can be more easily marketed in other countries than books which require translation. Beskow's picture books include humanized flora, dwarfs, children, etc. A very well-known title of hers was "Hänschen im Blaubeerwald" ("????").

Switzerland

We know very little about Swiss children's literature. Certainly the best known book is about a little Swiss girl. Johanna Spyri wrote the book Heidi in German during 18??. Johanna Spyri(1827-1901) was Swiss, but since the book was written in German for a primarily German market, we have also included it on our list of German children's books. This book became popular throughout Europe and America. Numerous American girls in fact were named Heidi, after that little Swiss girl in the Alps. Heidi is one of the classic girl heros that all little girls should read, along with Mary in Secret Garden, ??? in Little Princess, Ann in House with Red Gables, Jo in Little Women and Laura in Little House on the Prarie. Note that Heidi is the only one not written by an American or British author. Interestingly, bringing poor Austrian and Swiss children down from the mountains to work in Germany was not all that unusual. There were even markets for these children. One institution that seems uniquely German is the Schwabenkinder. The term Schwabenkinder means literally "Swabian children". This practice began before the industrial revolution, but continued into the 20th century. There were markets at Wangen, Ravensburg, Bad Waldsee, Tettnang, and Friedrichshafen in Württemberg, in Baden in Pfullendorf and Überlingen and in Bavarian Allgäu in Kempten. The biggest was in Ravensburg. As in Heidi's case, the boys often worked out of doors caring for animals or on other farm chores. The girls often worked inside the home.







HBC





Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to Main children's literature page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Illustrators] [Movies]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]



Created: April 29, 2002
Last updated: 2:21 PM 2/4/2011