Saturday, 9 January 2016

Never throw away those children's treasures

Now I am on a roll and have begun searching for the history books I read as a child.

Not that this is just a voyage into nostalgia although I have no doubt that is a factor.

No this is about looking again at the style and approach to writing history books for young people.

In time  I will slide into those Victorian and Edwardian books which are full of Kings and Queens and stories of Empire which of course was the staple of my father’s generation who remembered Empire Day and school room maps which showed a quarter of the world in British red.

But for now I am after those of the 1950s, full of magnificent illustrations and shot through with those new ideas that history was also about the “common people” and should include the history of the fire place, the bed and humble potato.

Not that this is as easy as you may think.

Some of these books I still have given to me as presents when I was growing up, but the rest I have to buy again.

And some like The Picture History of Italy will have to come from the USA.  It was going for $4 and with postage at $20 it has cost far more than its original cover price of 12/6d.

Of course someone out there will get back to me with an offer for the book at a fraction of the cost but the deal is done along with A Picture History of France and This is Rome.

And the point of the blog?

Never let your childhood books slip from your grasp and remember that even the humblest children’s history book has much to say about the time it was written.

Like the text book I used for years in school on the 18th century which in its 21 chapters only featured one woman and that was Marie Antoinette, other woman did make it across the pages but were relegated to walk on parts or in the case of many other men women and children were just in the background as fodder for the greats.

Picture; cover of A Picture Book of France, Clarke Hutton, 1965 and This Rome, Miroslav Sasek, 1960

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