Review written by Charlotte Taylor.

On Saturday May 18th 2019, members of the NCRCL gathered at the gleaming Duchesne building at the University of Roehampton for their annual MA Open Morning. After informally gathering over tea, coffee and pastries amidst a colourful display of vintage and contemporary children’s books, the members headed to the lecture theatre where the director of the NCRCL, Lisa Sainsbury, welcomed the group and began the morning’s programme. The group comprised of potential and current MA students as well as some distinguished alumni, and so Lisa explained about the different modules available to those starting the course in September. In addition, Nicki Humble and Alison Waller also spoke about their courses and their respective current research projects: Nicki on the presentation of craft and hobbies in 20th Century Children’s Literature, and Alison on her recent book Rereading Childhood Books: A Poetics.

Next, Dr Karen Williams took to the floor and gave a fascinating paper entitled The Creation and Reception of The Juvenile Christmas Annuals. In her presentation, she delighted her audience with her meticulous research into the origins, reception and presentation of the original Christmas annuals for children. She explained in some depth the intriguing ways in which the content was carefully ordered and formulated so that the children who read them gained the most from their special festive reading. The audience was afforded a fascinating glimpse into the historical context of this publishing phenomenon.

Pastries, Posters and Books Aplenty

The group took a break for coffee, and this afforded an opportunity for the members to discuss the MA Poster Presentations on display. The posters reflect the early research ideas of current MA students – there were a wide selection of different ideas storyboarded and they offered a visual feast; with subjects varying including homelessness, time travel, bedtime reading and racial identity. Prizes were awarded to Titi Amowolo for her Nigerian Children’s Story poster, and to Mark Carter for his poster about the complexities of bedtime reading.

The NCRCL also created a pop-up bookshop with copies of recent publications from the department including: Rereading Childhood Books: A Poetics by Alison Waller and Ethics in British Children’s Literature: Unexamined Life by Lisa Sainsbury.

Beyond the MA

The group reconvened back in the lecture theatre for an insightful Q&A chaired by Alison Waller with two former MA students: Dr Karen Williams, an early career researcher, and Isabel MacDonald, Senior Lecturer at The Institute of Education. This was an insightful discussion in which both former students discussed how their experience of the MA had shaped them. Karen Williams spoke about how her study had led to her PhD research, and Isabel McDonald spoke about how her in depth study of the reception of Michael Morpurgo’s work gave her insights into her work, particularly in the field of Philosophy for Children.


Karen Williams, Alison Waller, Isabel Macdonald

Prizes and Farewell

Finally, to conclude an inspiring and varied morning Lisa Sainsbury announced the NCRCL prizewinners for the year.

  • Meret Aeschlimann: Pinsent Prize, awarded for outstanding work on the on-site MA CHL programme.
  • Irit Collins: Cotton Visual Texts Prize, MA Creative Dissertation.
  • Gareth Osborne: Hancock Prize, awarded for outstanding work on the Distance Learning MA CHL programme.
  • Sandra Tull: Lathey Dissertation Prize (Distance Learning)
  • Emily Wilde: Pinsent Prize, awarded for outstanding work on the on-site MA CHL programme; Lathey Dissertation Prize (On-Site)

Charlotte Taylor is currently studying for an MA in Children’s Literature at the University of Roehampton. A former English teacher of twenty five years, she took a break to study for this MA and has loved the breadth and variety of the course. Alongside her
studies this year she has spent one day a week working in The Alligator’s Mouth bookshop in Richmond and volunteering at local Literature festivals. She lives in Twickenham with her husband, two teenage sons and a cat and her interests include swimming, paddle
boarding and travelling.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s