Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Sailing with the Phoenicians to the Tin Islands and more ......... A Picture History of Great Discoveries 1954

I am back with another of those history books written for children in the 1950s.

Many of the ones I was given at the time have survived and sit on our book shelves along with others that I have bought over the years.*

What makes A Picture History of Great Discoveries different is that while it was originally published in 1954 it has been reissued along with A Picture History of Britain.**

They were part of a series which also included the history of France and Italy and were striking in their use of colour and dramatic images.

That said I never quite took to these books in the way that I did to those of R.J. Unstead whose pictures were simpler and more realistic.

But the images in both books are of their time and reflect a style of painting which will be all too familiar to anyone who grew up in the 1950s and 60s.

And Great Discoveries is also a book of its time when it was still fashionable to write about voyages of exploration and the discovery of the “New World” with that Eurocentric notion that these were places which having been lost were now rediscovered.

I doubt that the peoples of the Americas, or Africa and the Far East ever quite saw it that way.

Still A Picture History of Great Discoveries remains a fascinating glimpse into how children’s history was written over sixty years ago and by extension how our view of the world and its history was shaped.

Picture; cover of A Picture History of Great Discoveries

*Books Children, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Books%20Children

** A Picture History of Britain, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/a-picture-history-of-britain.html

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