Monday, 21 December 2015

R.J. Unstead


Of all my favourite children’s history books those written by Robert John Unstead are the ones I most frequently return to.

He was a prolific author and his career as a teacher shines through in what he published.

These were books to be read, enjoyed and understood by children, often reading on their own.

They were also full of both colourful paintings and more to the point simple accurate line drawings which could be copied.

I wonder how many young children like me spent hours carefully reproducing the picture of a Norman castle and comparing it to later castles, noting the changes in design.

I do not think you can underestimate the degree to which this brought history alive.

His other great strength for me was that much of what he wrote was designed to describe the lives of ordinary people, including their homes, forms of entertainment and work.

This was history from the bottom up and was a powerful counter blast to stories of Kings and Queens. Not that Unstead ignored royal stories there would always be a market for such history. But these are balanced by those given over to descriptions of the lives of all in society.

Picture; Cover of Looking At History A & C Black 1955

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