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Scholars who are new to children’s literature of the British Romantic era are often taken aback by its naked didacticism. At the end of the eighteenth century, utile [usefulness] was dominant, but it was increasingly in a delicate balance with dulce [pleasure], as parents and book buyers accepted that the medicine of education was best swallowed as a story, fairy tale, fable, or poem. Many enduring children’s texts and forms first appeared in the Romantic era, but less spectacular but far more influential are the Romantic era’s enduring innovations in the material form and language of children’s texts. In a general sense, children’s literature of the Romantic area can be characterized by the following features: a mix of didactic and pleasurable elements; familiar or conversational language; an awareness of age-appropriateness in content and children’s reading abilities; strong female educators and mother-teachers as prominent characters; an emphasis on experiential learning drawn from the Lockean precepts underpinning the eighteenth-century rational education movement; and a strong moral purpose. This essay overviews the ways British women writers engaged in this market and, at the end offers useful guidance on how to imagine and do research in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Romantic Women Writers
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781317041740
ISBN (Print)9781472468420
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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