The Children's Book Business
Lessons from the Long Eighteenth Century
By Lissa Paul
Routledge – 2011 – 234 pages
In The Children’s Book Business, Lissa Paul constructs a new kind of book biography. By focusing on Eliza Fenwick’s1805 product-placement novel, Visits to the Juvenile Library, in the context of Marjorie Moon’s 1990 bibliography, Benjamin Tabart’s Juvenile Library, Paul explains how twenty-first century cultural sensibilities are informed by late eighteenth-century attitudes towards children, reading, knowledge, and publishing. The thinking, knowing children of the Enlightenment, she argues, are models for present day technologically-connected, socially-conscious children; the increasingly obsolete images of Romantic innocent and ignorant children are bracketed between the two periods.
By drawing on recent scholarship in several fields including book history, cultural studies, and educational theory, The Children’s Book Business provides a detailed historical picture of the landscape of some of the trade practices of early publishers, and explains how they developed in concert with the progressive pedagogies of several female authors, including Eliza Fenwick, Mary Wollstonecraft, Anna Barbauld, Maria Edgeworth, and Ann and Jane Taylor. Paul’s revisionist reading of the history of children’s literature will be of interest to scholars working in eighteenth-century studies, book history, childhood studies, cultural studies, educational history, and children’s literature.
"While this is definitely a scholar's book drawing on scholarly contexts, readers familiar with standard histories of children's literature will find food for thought in Paul's championing of figures earlier historians have dismissed."
-- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 2011
"An image-rich and engaging work of scholarship…Paul’s book includes much that will be of interest to those in book history, women’s writings, and children’s literature, particularly in its study of the importance and reach of Talbart’s collection of books. Paul also provides important jumping-off points for future, much-needed research into the careers of Fenwick and Ann and Jane Taylor." –Studies in English Literature, 2011
Introduction: And in this Book There Are Many Houses. Chapter 1: This is the House that Ben Built. Chapter 2: These are the Books that Lived in the House that Ben Built. Chapter 3: These are the Lessons Taught from the Books that Lived in the House that Ben Built. Chapter 4: These are the Women Who Wrote the Books that Lived in the House that Ben Built. Chapter 5: These are (Not) the Children who Read the Books that Lived in the House that Ben Built. Chapter 6: In the End
Lissa Paul, a professor in the Faculty of Education at Brock University in Canada, publishes and speaks internationally. She is the author of Reading Otherways (Thimble 1998), an Associate General Editor of The Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature (Norton 2005), and co-editor, with Phil Nel, of Keywords for Children’s Literature (New York UP 2011) . She is currently working on a biography of Eliza Fenwick (1767-1840).