The Secret Garden and Kid-Lit’s Golden Age
The Golden Age of British children’s literature refers to a remarkable period during which a vast number of western literature’s best-loved books were written. Consider that between 1900 and 1930:
- Beatrix Potter wrote and illustrated her many picture books for young children, beginning with The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
- A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh.
- E. Nesbit wrote her wonderful children’s novels, including The Railway Children, Five Children and It, and The Enchanted Castle.
- Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote A Little Princess, The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy.
- J.M. Barrie created Peter Pan.
And this list is not exhaustive at all. There was also an explosion of American children’s literature at around the same time: The Wizard of Oz, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, The Call of the Wild and Pollyanna, to name a few.
The wonderful thing about all these books, to my mind, is that they are not written “down” to children, over-simplified and dripping with moral lessons. Rather, they are strong original stories which are amusing, engaging and often thought-provoking, but which are most appropriate to the genre (fairly new at the time) of children’s literature.