The Prettiest Book for Children (1770) is an early example of a fantasy story written specifically for children, designed to entertain but also to improve the reader.
Don Stephano Bunyano, who describes himself as the ‘under-secretary to Giant Instruction’, is the book’s narrator. Although his name recalls John Bunyan, whose books (such as Pilgrim’s Progress, 1678) were often read by children, Bunyano is a figure more in the tradition of Jonathan Swift’s Lemuel Gulliver: a fictional character purporting to be giving a true account of strange, overseas lands. The islands Bunyano describes are idyllic places where the sheep are pure white and the population is devoutly Christian but also tolerant of different opinions. Bunyano was not the first to write about the Fortunate Isles: they occur in Greek and Celtic mythology and appear in works by Plutarch, Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy amongst others.
- Full title:
- The Prettiest Book for Children; being the history of the Enchanted Castle; situated in one of the Fortunate Isles, and governed by Giant Instruction. Written for the entertainment of the little masters and misses of Great Britain by Don Stephano Bunyano
- estimated 1800, London
- Chapbook / Children's book / Illustration / Image
- Stephano Bunyano [pseudonym]
- Held by:
- British Library
- Article by:
- Ruth Richardson
- Popular culture, Reading and print culture
Chapbooks were small, affordable forms of literature for children and adults that were sold on the streets, and covered a range of subjects from fairy tales and ghost stories to news of politics, crime or disaster. Dr Ruth Richardson explains what this literature looked like, its subject matter and the ways in which it was produced.
- Article by:
- M O Grenby
- Reading and print culture, Childhood and children's literature
Professor M O Grenby charts the rise of children’s literature throughout the 18th century, explaining how books for children increasingly blended entertainment with instruction.