Its presence in such successful works implies a significant degree f social acceptance and approval, and consequently offers useful insight as to British norms and values at different historical periods, and their relevance regarding children.
The concept f childhood in British society has been an evolving one. The centrality f children in modern culture was not always in evidence, nor were the particular needs f children always considered to be distinct from those f adults. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, literary and artistic evidence depicts a world in which children were viewed primarily as smaller, less capable adults. Artwork containing children reflected such views through images f undersized men and women with oddly miniaturised features and tiny adult attire. Recreational books for children began to emerge in the late seventeenth century, but this material was heavily coloured with religious and moral instruction, often grim in nature.
In the late nineteenth century formal changes to the position f children in society began to emerge that distinguished childhood as a critical stage f life. Although the factories f the Industrial Revolution had saved the working classes from starvation, they came to be a condemnation to life f unrelenting toil and deprivation. The worst f their legacy was represented by the plight f children sent to work at ages as young as seven or eight years, under the same often appalling conditions as adult employees. Successive government inquiries and regulation through Factory Acts reflected a growing tendency to define child welfare issues as distinct from those f adults, resulting in gradual improvements and a lessening role for child labour. The reduction in child employment was also conducive to the growing movement in favour f a nationwide system f mandatory education. Subsequent Education Acts f 1870 and 1880 introduced free schooling for children, which became compulsory to the age f ten. By 1918 the state had assumed a more protective role in the lives f children, providing medical examinations, free school meals and maternity and birth services for women.
Rapid technological progress and shifting political dynamics continued the transformation f the role f the child in British society into the twentieth century. Literature intended for children forms a useful barometer f the changing cultural expectations f this period. Deliberate moral and instructive messages often immersed within violent text reveal much about society's perceptions and expectations f childhood. Also telling, however, are the hidden, and perhaps unintended, forms f socialization posed by the relationship f conflict with aspects f gender, class and society generally. Material provided for children has often at its core the purpose, or at least the effect, f transmitting appropriate norms and values. The presentation f violence amongst these provides critical evidence f prevailing cultural attitudes.
Educational techniques and aims
One f the most obvious reflections f changing