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Women's history: Children's literature

Girl’s own paper, 1885

Special Collections and Archives holds around 500 Victorian and early 20th century works of children’s literature. The Victorian era saw a new conception of childhood as a distinct age, with its own needs and interests, and consequently an increase in the number of books specifically aimed at children. The Salisbury Collection includes a collection of Welsh children’s journals, dating from the 19th century to the 20th century. Holdings include almost complete sets of Cymru’r Plant, Trysorfa y Plant, Y Winllan, Antur, and Telyn y Plant. Much of this literature grants insight into contemporary attitudes towards gender-appropriate behaviour.

Women writers represented in the collection include Angela Brazil, Arabella B. Buckley (Mrs Fisher), Frances Hodgson Burnett, Lucy Cavendish née Lyttelton (Mrs Cameron), Maria Edgeworth, Juliana Horatia Ewing, Kate Greenaway, Mary Howitt, Harriet Martineau, Edith Nesbit, Christina Rossetti, Martha Sherwood, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Charlotte Mary Yonge. Periodicals aimed at girls and young women include the Girl’s own paper and Young lady’s handbook.

Girl annual (1959)

Special Collections and Archives also holds a collection of 20th century children’s comics and annuals – both facsimiles and originals – published by Hulton Press, including The Eagle, and its sister title, Girl. The collection is extremely useful for comparative studies of gendered children’s comics. Girl's full colour lead strip was originally 'Kitty Hawke and her All-Girl Air Crew', about a group of women running a charter airline. The strip was later felt to be too masculine, and was moved to the black and white interior pages, replaced on the cover by the schoolgirl strip 'Wendy and Jinx'. Other strips often focused on the lives of career women - though always careers considered suitable for women, including 'Susan of St. Brides', 'Angela Air Hostess', 'At Work With Janet - Fashion Artist', and 'Belle of the Ballet'.

Digital resources

Members of Cardiff University may access the digital resource 19th Century Periodicals Online, where the following sources are available online:

Boys of England. A magazine of sport, sensation, fun, and instruction, 1866-93
…continued as Boys of England and Jack Harkaway's Journal for Boys, 1893-99
…continued as Up-To-Date Boys' Journal & Novelettes, 1899-1900

Boy's Own Magazine, 1855-62
…continued as Boys Own Volume (Beeton's Boy's Annual), 1863-69
…continued as Boy's Own Magazine, Beeton's Fact, Fiction etc, 1870-74

Boy's Own Paper 1879-1900

Captain, The: a magazine for boy and old boys, 1899-1900

Chums, an illustrated paper for boys, 1892-1900

Every Boy's Magazine, 1862-64
…continued as Routledge’s Magazine for Boys, 1865-68
…continued as Young Gentleman’s Magazine, etc., 1869-73
…continued as Every Boy's Magazine, 1874-89

Girls' Own Paper, 1880-1900

Judy, or the London Serio-Comic Journal, 1867-1900

Routledge's Every Girls Annual, 1878-88

Union Jack, Tales for British Boys, 1880-83