Be Merry and Wise: Children's Books in Britain Before 1850 (BOK)
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When did someone decide that books might be written and published for child readers? Originating from an exhibition held at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, this bibliographical study focuses on the child as the audience for books in the English language. The authors show how certain creative talents, driven by a sense of purpose, or a wish to make some money, attempted to appeal directly to children, and how the publishing industry came to realise that this audience might constitute a profitable market. As well as plotting the chronological development of children's book publishing, the authors also show how publishers adapted their strategies to exploit this new market. Sweetness and light did not prevail everywhere, but even in some of the most forbidding examples presented here there was a commercial optimism that both merriment and wisdom might be happily combined, within the pages of children's literature.