Ideology in Children's Literature
When: Fri 18 Oct 2013, 18.30-20.00
Where: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £7.50 / £5 concessions
The literature of our childhood is remembered with nostalgia, but it is a product of time and place and not always value-free. From the Christian underpinning of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis to the dark readings of fairy tales and the critical reassessment of Enid Blyton’s work, the writing and illustrations of children’s books have provoked discussion, dispute and disagreement.
Children’s literature can fall out of favour as society’s attitudes change, but is this proof that it is merely a reflection of a particular time? Can children’s literature ever be free of adult themes and ways of seeing the world? What place is there for ideology in the creation of children’s books?
In this panel conversation, author and children’s critic for Literary Review, Philip Womack, is joined by authors and illustrators to explore the impact of political, cultural and social contexts on children’s literature.
Philip Womack (Chair) was born in 1981, in the middle of a thunderstorm, in Sussex. He was educated at Lancing and Oriel College, and his first novel for children, The Other Book, was published to critical acclaim in 2008. His second, The Liberators, was a Times, Telegraph and Financial Times Children’s Book of the Year, and was published in 2010. He is a Fellow of First Story, leading creative writing workshops in inner city schools, and is a judge on this year’s Costa Children’s Award. He is also the children’s critic for Literary Review.
Dr Matthew Eve, the curator of the British Library exhibition Picture This: Children’s Illustrated Classics, is a freelance writer and illustrator with a longstanding interest and expertise in children’s literature. He wrote his doctoral thesis at Oxford University about children's book illustration and book production in Britain during World War II; has contributed numerous articles for academic journals and has lectured widely on the subject. He is the official biographer to the Estate of the British designer Enid Marx (1902-1998) and is in the process of completing her biography for publication. He has sat on the committees of the Children’s Books History Society, IBIS (Imaginative Book Illustration Society) and is a member of the Art Workers Guild.
David Fickling is a publisher of children's books, now at the helm of independent publishing company, David Fickling Books. In his first job at Oxford University Press he signed up Philip Pullman's The Ruby in the Smoke, and has published Philip's books ever since, including the His Dark Materials trilogy. David is the man behind both the Goosebumps and Horrible Histories phenomenon and more recently he published international bestsellers Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (bestseller and award winning play) and John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. In 2012 he launched a weekly story comic for children called The Phoenix, filled with beautiful and original artwork, exciting stories and featuring no advertising.
Anthony McGowan is a multi-award winning author of books for adults, teenagers and younger children. He has written six young-adult novels, Hellbent, Henry Tumour (winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize in 2007), The Knife That Killed Me, The Fall (winner of the Coventry Inspirations Book Award), Brock and Hello Darkness. His many books for younger children include Einstein’s Underpants (short-listed for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, in 2010) and the three books in the Donut Diaries series. He has a PhD on the concept of beauty, and an M.Phil on genius, and has taught philosophy at the Open University, and creative writing for the Faber Academy. A film of The Knife that Killed Me is scheduled for release later this year.