Winner of the 2019 Book Award from the Children's Literature Association
Between Generations is a multidisciplinary volume that reframes children as powerful forces in the production of their own literature and culture by uncovering a tradition of creative, collaborative partnerships between adults and children in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century England. The intergenerational collaborations documented here provide the foundations for some of the most popular Victorian literature for children, from Margaret Gatty's Aunt Judy's Tales to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Examining the publication histories of both canonical and lesser-known Golden Age texts reveals that children collaborated with adult authors as active listeners, coauthors, critics, illustrators, and even small-scale publishers.
These literary collaborations were part of a growing interest in child agency evident in cultural, social, and scientific discourses of the time. Between Generations puts these creative partnerships in conversation with collaborations in other fields, including child study, educational policy, library history, and toy culture. Taken together, these collaborations illuminate how Victorians used new critical approaches to childhood to theorize young people as viable social actors. Smith's work not only recognizes Victorian children as literary collaborators but also interrogates how those creative partnerships reflect and influence adult-child relationships in the world beyond books. Between Generations breaks the critical impasse that understands children's literature and children themselves as products of adult desire and revises common constructions of childhood that frequently and often errantly resign the young to passivity or powerlessness.
In The Press
The greatest strength of Between Generations is Smith's extensive historical research. She delved deeply in order to reconstruct the composition narratives that she examines and to provide historical context for them. Her scholarship is impressive and wide ranging, incorporating issues relevant to literature, linguistics, art, history, education, and child culture.
About The Author
Victoria Ford Smith is assistant professor of English at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches courses on children's, young adult, and British literature and culture. Her work has appeared in Children's Literature, Children's Literature Association Quarterly, and Dickens Studies Annual, and she serves as book review coeditor for The Lion and the Unicorn.