Pasts at play

Childhood encounters with history in British culture, 1750-1914

Edited by Rachel Bryant Davies and Barbara Gribling

Pasts at play


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2889-8
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: September 2020
  • BIC Category: LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 19th Century, LITERARY CRITICISM / General, Society & social sciences / Cultural studies, Children’s & teenage literature studies, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900, Literature, Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900, LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature
  • Series: Interventions: Rethinking the Nineteenth Century


This collection brings together scholars from disciplines including Children's Literature, Classics, and History to develop fresh approaches to children's culture and the uses of the past. It charts the significance of historical episodes and characters during the long nineteenth-century (1750-1914), a critical period in children's culture. Boys and girls across social classes often experienced different pasts simultaneously, for purposes of amusement and instruction. The book highlights an active and shifting market in history for children, and reveals how children were actively involved in consuming and repackaging the past: from playing with historically themed toys and games to performing in plays and pageants. Each chapter reconstructs encounters across different media, uncovering the cultural work done by particular pasts and exposing the key role of playfulness in the British historical imagination.


Introduction: pasts at play - Rachel Bryant Davies and Barbara Gribling
Part I: Biblical and archaeological pasts
1 Noah's Ark-aeology and nineteenth-century children - Melanie Keene
2 Bringing Egypt home: children's encounters with ancient Egypt in the long nineteenth century - Virginia Zimmerman
Part II: Classical pasts
3 Didactic heroes: masculinity, sexuality and exploration in the Argonaut story of Kingsley's The Heroes - Helen Lovatt
4 'Fun from the Classics': puzzling antiquity in The Boy's Own Paper - Rachel Bryant Davies
Part III: Medieval and early modern pasts
5 Youthful consumption and conservative visions: Robin Hood and Wat Tyler in late Victorian penny periodicals - Stephen Basdeo
6 A tale of two ladies? Stuart women as role models for Victorian and Edwardian girls and young women - Rosemary Mitchell
Part IV: Revived pasts
7 Tarry-at-home antiquarians: children's 'tour books' 1740-1840 - M. O. Grenby
8 Playing with the past: child consumers, pedagogy and British history games, c. 1780-1850 - Barbara Gribling
9 Re-enacting local history in the Stepney Children's Pageant, 1909 - Ellie Reid
Appendix A: A list of 'tour books' - M. O. Grenby
Appendix B: A list of British history-themed toys and games - Barbara Gribling


Rachel Bryant Davies is a Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary University of London

Barbara Gribling is a Research Associate in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University

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