Image of the cover of Unseen ChildhoodsUnseen Childhoods: Disabled Characters in 20th-Century Books for Girls

Helen A. Aveling (Editor)
March 2009, ISBN 978 0 9552973 7 3
£14.99 (includes p&p in the UK)

Or £6.90 (inc VAT)/ $9.99 US plus sales tax as an ebook for the Kindle - click here to buy directly from Amazon

Unseen Childhoods is a collection of essays by British and American authors, all of whom have personal experience of disability. Disabled characters are few and far between in children’s literature, and those that do exist are often stereotyped and two-dimensional. But there are characters — and authors — who buck the trend, appearing in books by favourites such as Dorita Fairlie Bruce, Elsie J. Oxenham, Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, L. M. Montgomery, Eleanor H. Porter and Frances Hodgson Burnett, as well in books by lesser-known authors.

This ground-breaking study examines disabled role models, stereotypes and the inclusion/exclusion of disabled characters in 20th-century books for girls and looks at how these change and develop — or fail to change and develop — from the early years through to the middle period and then the last years of the century. Accessible and varied, this collection of essays will appeal to everyone with an interest in children's books, as well as to disabled people and their families, and to students and scholars working in the fields of Children's Literature, Women’s Studies and Disability Studies.

Unseen Childhoods includes:

Helen A. Aveling on the representation of illness and disability within the early 20th century
Linda Dick on how disability was stigmatised in fiction for the teenaged ‘baby boomer’ generation in the UK and North America
Louise Norlie on the stereotyping of disabled characters in the late 20th century
Helen A. Aveling on disabled role models in early 20th-century girls’ school stories
Deborah Kent on alternative representations of Blind girls in the mid 20th century
Meredith Guthrie on books for and about teenagers living with Diabetes
Ju Gosling & Julie Newman on disability & mental health in Elsie J. Oxenham’s ‘Abbey’ books
Ju Gosling on illness and disability in Elinor M. Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School series
Rebecca R. Butler on relationships between disabled characters and their non-disabled siblings

Click here to read an interview with Helen A. Aveling and learn more about the background to the publication.

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