Books for Boys: Heroism, Adventure & Empire at the Dawn of the First World War

BooksforBoys_cropA new exhibition opens the pages of children’s literature in the early twentieth century, to reveal the cultural environment that shaped a generation of boys in the run up to the First World War. Books for Boys runs at Palace Green Library from 27th September to 11th January; the exhibition is co-curated by Professor Simon James.

Books for Boys: Heroism, Adventure & Empire at the Dawn of the First World War celebrates a golden age of books for children. The late Victorian and Edwardian era introduced readers to classics from The Jungle Book to The Wind in the Willows. Looking also at older readers, we include tales of real-life heroes, early spy novels, and popular classics such as Scouting for Boys. Books will be shown alongside toys and games of the period and author’s original manuscripts.

Books for Boys explores the fascinating links between these stories and ideals of boyhood. In a world where patriotism and duty were often seen as the defining qualities of a manly character, thrilling tales of adventure, real-life heroes, spies and imaginary worlds were written to inspire the boys that would go on to fight in the First World War.

This thought-provoking exhibition celebrates reading and reveals the sometimes surprising stories behind some of the best-loved works of the period, comparing the books enjoyed by children in Britain and Germany.

From Conan-Doyle to Kipling, Wodehouse to Wells, the exhibition is a must for anyone who enjoys reading. Inspired by the books, displays will celebrate ripping yarns and thrilling adventure. Who knows what you will discover…

This exhibition is the first in a series of exhibitions linked to the national centenary commemoration of the First World War. Please keep an eye on the Palace Green website for details of future exhibition.



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