Games, Books & Children
Posted by P. Bingham on August 19, 1998 at 18:16:38:
In response to Fairy Tales, written by Bob Whitworth on August 18, 1998 at 18:23:48
This is from Laurence Stone's book The Family, Sex and Marriage In England 1500-1800:
...There are, however, more revealing types of evidence than clothing to prove that the eighteenth century was a turning point in the recognition of childhood as a period with its own distinctive requirements. Between 1750 and 1814 some twenty professional writers of children's books produced some 2,400 different titles. Parents were now willing to spend money to buy children's books that were totally lacking in moral implications and were merely to amuse: a whole new demand had given rise to a new industry to supply it. By 1800 there was a very large range of children's books, costing between a penny and sixpense, and therefore accessible to the humblest artisan who wished to indulge his children.
Educational games that combines instruction with fun were also introduced in the mid-eighteenth century, geographical jigsawpuzzles in 1762 and a geographical or travel game played with dice in 1759. This was the time when toy-shops were springing up in provencial towns, and were doing a brisk trade selling toys that were designed to gratify its' parents' desire for moral or educational improvement. it was now that dolls with changeable clothing and dolls' houses were first mass produced for a commercial market. The commercialization of the supply of goods specially designed for children was obviously only made possible by social and economic developments which created a large upper and lower-middle-class market of parents with money to buy such relative luxuries in quantity for their children. As today, status competition undoubtedly also played its part in stimulating demand. But what is important is that large numbers of parents were now willing to pamper their children by buying them these frivolous toys and books. England was clearly moving towards a child-oriented society.
I think I actually posted this before! Sorry about that.
Cinderella was under fire at some point as were many other books for children. Hannah More had a hand in that movement. But I cannot find which book I remember this from. I know there is some lengthy discission on this subject in a book called Leisure and Pleasure in the Nineteenth Century. But this movement is only a symptom of what started in the middle classes during the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth and would later grow into the Victorian period. For the period we are interested in here, this topic would likely be reserved for the middle classes, Purintans, Evangelicals, etc. perhaps even gentry, but it was not a subject most people were obsessed with. I think because the topic was abundantly discussed over in the written form, it has sometimes been assumed that that was the climate.
- Thanks, Patricia: you clarified the matter SuzanneR 13:26:45 8/20/98 (0)
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