‘When the voices of children are heard on the green’: Mary Wollstonecraft the Author-Educator

  • Caroline Franklin
Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)


Is the concept of a separate state of childhood a modern invention? The influential thesis of Philippe Ariès’ Centuries of Childhood, tr. Robert Baldick (1962) suggests it is. In mediaeval society children were dressed like the adults alongside whom they worked, played and listened to stories, in the mixed-age kinship groups of feudal times. But by the eighteenth century, children had become the highly-valued particular focus of the bourgeois nuclear family, and began to be treated as a distinct group, as for several hours they were educated together in nurseries or schools. The new consumer society underlined this by producing toys, clothes and entertainments specially designed for children, who began to be thought of as ‘innocent’ and in need of protection from adult culture. This was the context in which the book written specially for children came to the fore: with proliferating sub genres like the textbook, the reading primer, the school story. Specialist bookshops and publishers sprang up to provide them, while periodicals were founded to advise on purchase.


Eighteenth Century Fairy Tale Young Lady Woman Writer Child Reader 
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Copyright information

© Caroline Franklin 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline Franklin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WalesSwanseaUK

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