Becoming British

Due Date: 12-15-2021

The Victorians invented childhood and created a market for children’s literature. But what did it mean to be a child of the British empire? How were the constructs of British identity reinforced or challenged by children’s literature?

Becoming British, an academic book that fills the gap left by literary scholars, offers fresh insights on how to read Victorian fiction intended for children. Was literature meant to reinforce Christian values? Was literature intended to teach? Or to offer cautionary tales? Or might children’s literature be created and read for pure pleasure? Becoming British analyzes the connections between gender, sexuality, race, religion, socioeconomics, physicality, and empire as found in nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century British literature. This volume analyzes the complex themes found in Victorian children’s literature and explores how race, gender, socioeconomics, religion, and politics shaped the life of British children.

Topics include Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, works by Dinah Mulock, Craik Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, and works by Beatrix Potter.

To submit a proposal for a potential chapter in the book, e-mail a 500-word abstract to Precious McKenzie ( by 15 December 2021.