A site for the study of twentieth century British children’s books, particularly historical fiction, and their relationship to social change
Clive Barnes

Clive Barnes

Clive_BarnesA retired children’s librarian, I have been involved with British children’s books in various ways during a career of thirty odd years. In 2004, I graduated with an M.A. in Children’s Literature from Roehampton University, Surrey, England and since then I have written scholarly articles about children’s literature, some of which have been published.

Looking Back

is a website that hosts several of my articles about children’s books, including work that was produced as part of my M.A. course requirements. My aim is to make these available to anyone who may be interested.

This gives me the opportunity to explore in one place my interest in twentieth century British children’s fiction and, in particular, my present preoccupation with children’s historical fiction.

Why Looking Back?

Historical fiction is a look back at the past, in which the vantage point from which we regard the past is as significant as the past itself. Looking back expresses this idea of regarding the past from the point of view of the present.

The fiction that I am most interested in is the work that appeared in my own youth and in my early career as a librarian, from the nineteen sixties to nineteen eighties. So that, in much of what follows, I am also looking back to that time and back at myself as a reader then.

The main aspect of children’s fiction that I explore in these articles is the way in which it reveals the social attitudes of the time in which it was written: children’s literature as a carrier of ideology and as a voice in the discussion of social and political change. My first degree was in history and politics and my approach to children’s literature is informed by these interests.

I am attempting to make connections between children’s literature and the circumstances in which it was written and first read. My aim is to see writing for children as an expression of the relationship between the adult writer and the child audience in a particular time; and to see children’s literature as partly a revelation of what adults feel children should know about the world.