English Children's Literature: Individual Story Books

Figure 1.-- "Little Treasure Island - Her Story and Her Glory" was written by Arthur Mee, psometime in the 1920s.The book has many illustrations and has stirring patriotic accounts of the birth of the British Isles and of it's rich, noble and proud history. This illustration of a boy in a sailor suit is on the inside of the back cover, a heroic and inspiring picture of patriotism which is the theme of the book. Image coutesy of the AM collection.

There have been hundreds of children's story books published in England. They cover a wide variety of themes for different age groups. They were normally richly illustrated, in some cases by some of the most acclaimed illustrators. Some story books were illustrated by the same illustrator, others used illustrations from a variety of sources. Normally a story book had an author or group of authors, even though some involved well-known fairy tales or other stories. We have just begun to collect some of these books. Over time these storybooks provide an interesting look the world of British childhhod in various years.

(The) Jungle Books

Perhaps the most beloved of all children's story books is Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Actually there were two volumes as well as follow up story books with related stories. Kipling was born in India and lived there for several years. Many of his early writings were about the British soldier in India. One of the most famous chronicled Tommy Atkins, the genesis of the term "Tommie" for a British soldier. Kipling also wrote Kim about an orphaned British boy in India. He wrote The Jungle Book interestingly while living in of all places Vermont (1894). It was first published in serialized form in the American children's magazine, Saint Nicholas as were other famous stories at the time such as Little Lord Fauntleoy. Kipling is widely assocviated with British imperialism because of his other writings. The Jungle Book is entirely devoid of imperialist thought or influence. The stories are timeless and could hasve been done with many other cgharacters and settings. The jungle is in fact a methphor for civilization. Kipling played an important role in Scouting. Kipling wrote "The Scout's Patrol Song" which was the official Boy Scout song. Kippling contributed a brief version of Kim to Part I of Scouting For Boys. His son became a Scout and he was appointed a comissioner in the British Scouting program. His greatest contribution to Scouting was The Jungle Book which Baden-Powell used as a concept around which to build the Wolf Cubbing program for the younger boys. American Cubbing relied kess heavily on Kipling's Jungle Book. There have been many different dditions of The Jungle Book published around the world illustrated by different illustrators.

Litle Treasure Island (1927?)

A HBC reader has sent us some information about Little Treasure Island - Her Story and Her Glory. It was written by Arthur Mee, and according to the opening credits, was also the editor of The Children's Newspaper and The Children's Encyclopedia. Little Treasure Island is an intensely patriotic book no doubt intended to further national pride of the country of England. Whilst there is no publishing date, the book is dedicated as a Christmas gift 'To dear Jock, With best love and best wishes. From Uncle Alf and Auntie ???. Xmas 1927'. One assumes the book is a gift to a nephew. The book has many illustrations and has stirring patriotic accounts of the birth of the British Isles and of it's rich, noble and proud history: "Far away from the Island, out in Saskatchewan, a Red Indian schoolboy was looking at a map. They showed him the British Isles, and he looked with astonishment at the little spots. He could not believe so small a space stood for the home of the British Empire." Enclosed is an illustration from the book which is somewhat unusual for these books. The caption of the illustration says: "One of the most pathetic scenes in Shakespeare - Arthur's appeal to Hurbert. 'Will you put out mine eyes - these eyes that never did, nor never did, nor never shall, so much as frown on you?" It was from the painting by W. F. Yeames, R.A., now hanging in the Manchester Art Gallery.


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Created: May 10, 2003
Last updated: 2:32 AM 1/27/2011