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Two Memories of Fiction Events on Childhood Reading Experiences

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Illustration via Quentin Blake

Welcome to these two Memories of Fiction project events!

Memories of Children’s Books
Wednesday 31st May 2017
6.30 to 8 p.m.
Putney Library

Shelley Trower, lecturer at the University of Roehampton and project leader of Memories of Fiction: An Oral History of Readers’ Life Stories, and Ferelith Hordon, children’s librarian and editor, will lead a discussion of the items in the Wandsworth collection of Early Children’s Books. The collection will be on display, and the discussion will focus on memories of children’s books, especially as material objects: their covers, their smells, their feel. Please bring memories (or even physical copies) of a children’s book you remember reading!

This event is free, and refreshments will be available. All welcome!

You can read more about this event, and register for it here.

Our Lives in Libraries
Wednesday 7th June 2017
6.30 to 8 p.m.
Balham Library

Shelley Trower, lecturer at the University of Roehampton and project leader of Memories of Fiction: An Oral History of Readers’ Life Stories, and Alison Barton, librarian and book group facilitator, will discuss memories of libraries and what they mean to us, ranging from childhood to the present, from book groups to cuts and hopes for the future. In preparation for the event, please have a think about a visit you remember making to a library!

This event is free, and refreshments will be available. All welcome!

You can read more about this event, and register for it here.

These events are part of the Wandsworth Heritage Festival and supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. If you can’t make it to these events, Memories of Fiction welcome any comments on their blog.

Reminder: Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship 2015

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The deadline for applications for the Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship is approaching!

The University of Roehampton is pleased to make its annual Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship open to a general call for research topics in the field of children’s literature. This will be awarded to a postgraduate PhD student working in the field of children’s literature or creative writing for children. The Jacqueline Wilson Scholar will be based in the award-winning National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) with access to the Children’s Literature Collection and archives, and will join a lively community of researchers, writers and students. This fully funded scholarship will cover home/EU fees of £4052 for Home/EU students and maintenance of £16,057 p.a. in 2015/16 for 3 years full-time subject to satisfactory progress.

The scholarship is open to new students only and preference may be given to proposals that build on the research interests of the NCRCL. These include, but are not limited to: philosophy; theory; historical fiction; landscape; domestic spaces; memory; reading. Applicants are encouraged to identify potential supervisors as part of their application.

The deadline for application is Friday 3rd July 2015, and interviews will be held on Wednesday 8th July. For further information or for informal discussion please contact Professor David Rudd: d.rudd@roehampton.ac.uk

Application packs can be found here. To apply, please complete a PhD Application Form and email your application, along with transcripts and letters of reference, to pgrscholarships@roehampton.ac.uk. Please mention in your covering email that you are applying for the Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship.

NCRCL at the ISSCL Conference 2015

On 11th April 2015, three of NCRCL’s PhD students — Anne Malewski, Sinead Moriarty, and Sarah Pyke — along with Dr Jane Carroll presented their current projects at the Irish Society for the Study of Children’s Literature (ISSCL) conference 2015 in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin.

The setting for the conference was the brand new Dún Laoghaire Lexicon, a cultural centre and library set on the seafront in the Dublin suburb. The NCRCL delegates were made to feel incredibly welcome by the ISSCL team and were even given a tour of the new library facilities before the end of the weekend! This two-day event brought together a dynamic range of academics, graduate students and writers of children’s literature, not only from Ireland and the UK, but Europe and Latin America as well.

The theme of the 2015 ISSCL Conference was ‘Constructing childhoods and texts for children’. The broad nature of this theme resulted in a wide range of interesting papers focusing on topics such as the construction of the image of the child in the work of bell hooks in texts such as Happy to be Nappy to an examination of Beckett’s Godot for children in Sesame Street! The first day of the conference culminated in a fascinating key note speech by Maria Nikolajeva who focused on the importance of fantasy literature in the cognitive development of the child.

Anne, Sinead, and Sarah have written brief reports from their presentations and experiences from the conference…

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General Call – Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship, NCRCL

University of RoehamptonDepartment of English and Creative Writing

Postgraduate research studentships – Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship

The University of Roehampton is pleased to make its annual Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship open to a general call for research topics in the field of children’s literature. This will be awarded to a postgraduate PhD student working in the field of children’s literature or creative writing for children. The Jacqueline Wilson Scholar will be based in the award-winning National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) with access to the Children’s Literature Collection and archives, and will join a lively community of researchers, writers and students. This fully funded scholarship will cover home/EU fees of £4052 for Home/EU students and maintenance of £16,057 p.a. in 2015/16 for 3 years full-time subject to satisfactory progress.

The scholarship is open to new students only and preference may be given to proposals that build on the research interests of the NCRCL. These include, but are not limited to: philosophy; theory; historical fiction; landscape; domestic spaces; memory; reading. Applicants are encouraged to identify potential supervisors as part of their application.

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Continue reading

Boys and Girls, Then and Now

Boys and Girls, Then and Now:

Remembering Childhood Books / Some Perspectives on Childhood Reading

BAOn 8 October, Dr Alison Waller hosted an evening on childhood reading with Professor Peter Hunt and Dr Jane McVeigh at the University of Roehampton. It began with an exclusive tour of the Richmal Crompton Collection in the library, which includes not only a wide collection of Crompton’s published work and numerous drafts, notes and letters, but also her writing desk, as well as memorabilia such as a Just William boardgame.  

The Richmal Crompton Collection

The Richmal Crompton Collection

Dr Alison Waller

Dr Alison Waller

 

Dr Waller reported on her recent research project ‘Men Remember The Secret Garden,’ in which she interviewed male readers about their memories of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 classic and their impressions after re-reading the book. She explained how an important image such as the hidden door into the garden can be merged with real autobiographical memories (of a door in a wall on a childhood walk in Yorkshire, for example, or an encounter with a mysterious ruin in a jungle). She also argued that gendered readings might affect what and who is remembered over time, noting that Colin’s sickness and recovery play a particularly key role in male recollections. The project is part of a larger study on ‘Rereading Childhood Books’ which sees personal memories of reading childhood books as a valuable resource for academics.

 

Two of Dr Waller’s interviewees discussing the project with research student Sarah Pyke.

Two of Dr Waller’s interviewees discussing the project with research student Sarah Pyke.

Professor Peter Hunt

Professor Peter Hunt

 

Professor Peter Hunt provided a fascinating insight into his research for editing the centenary edition of The Secret Garden for Oxford University Press. To demonstrate that the way the reader encounters a book influences their reading, Professor Hunt mentioned various editions and paratexts of The Secret Garden, including picturebooks, films, and even a novel about making a film adaptation of The Secret Garden (Noel Streatfeild’s 1949 The Painted Garden). The Secret Garden has become “common property”, as Professor Hunt put it. [Secret Garden image] According to him, reasons for its lasting popularity may be the fact that it has been a crossover book from the beginning and that the author masterfully combined cultural references. She was, he said, “a magpie” who borrowed names, contemporary ideas of health, vitality and Christianity, as well as the garden metaphor for her own creative work. Although she was only one of many authors writing about gardens at the time, her story survived. Her work has become culturally embedded to the extent that, as Professor Hunt said, “even if we haven’t read it, we feel like we have.”

 

Before re-reading it as an adult, Professor Peter Hunt remembered The Secret Garden as a story of spooky rooms much like Jane Eyre and Heidi.

Before re-reading it as an adult, Professor Peter Hunt remembered The Secret Garden as a story of spooky rooms much like Jane Eyre and Heidi.

 

Richmal Crompton

Richmal Crompton

 

Finally, Dr Jane McVeigh who works on Richmal Crompton’s adult fiction, offered another perspective on childhood reading by sharing extracts from letters between Crompton and a young admirer of her work (to protect his identity, Dr McVeigh called him David). Upon Richmal Crompton’s reply to his first letter, David wrote that he now was “the happiest fellow alive”. From then on, the boy and his beloved author exchanged affectionate letters discussing not only the Just William books (and David’s kinship with the protagonist) but also their personal lives. Their friendship through correspondence lasted from 1953 until Richmal Crompton died in 1969; thirteen of these letters are held in the Richmal Crompton Collection.

Archives at the Richmal Crompton Collection

Archives at the Richmal Crompton Collection

6. Alison, Kate, Jane

Co-President of the Just William Society and Crompton’s great-niece Kate Massey (centre)

Dr McVeigh claims that the letters “are very much a story in their own right,” showing a special relationship between a child and his childhood reading but also hinting at the caring and loyal nature of the author. Her account was complemented by short talk by the Co-President of the Just William Society and Crompton’s great-niece Kate Massey, who, with plenty of humour, shared memories of her “Auntie”.

Lively discussions were also had by the attentive audience who lingered to share recommendations and reminisce about their childhood reading.

Lively discussions were also had by the attentive audience who lingered to share recommendations and reminisce about their childhood reading.

 

Prior to the event, participants had been asked to name a significant book they remembered reading in their childhood. A selection of those books was then presented on a book table.

Prior to the event, participants had been asked to name a significant book they remembered reading in their childhood. A selection of those books was then presented on a book table.

9. Kornelia

Kornelia Cepok

The event – and the ‘Men Remember The Secret Garden project – was funded by a British Academy and Leverhulme Small Grant. If you are interested in finding out more about ‘Rereading Childhood Books’ you can email Alison Waller at a.waller@roehampton.ac.uk.

If you would like to view the Richmal Crompton Collection or other parts of the children’s literature collection at Roehampton, please contact Kornelia Cepok at k.cepok@roehampton.ac.uk

Photographs by Anne Malewski

Remembering Childhood – David Almond and Nadia Budde

Bath Kids Literature FestivalHalf a Creature from the SeaOur childhood provides us with memories which influence our imagination throughout our lives.

At the Bath Children’s Literature Festival on Saturday 4th October Alison Waller talks to Skellig author David Almond about Half A Creature From the Sea, inspired by his childhood in the north-east of England. They are joined by award-winning German author Nadia Budde, who vividly recalls growing up in the GDR in her illustrated children’s book.

The event will take place at The Guildhall Hall, High Street, Bath, at 8pm and tickets are still available through the festival website.