All of us can remember books we read in childhood; some wonderful stories continue to echo throughout our lives. Names, places, attitudes, choices we make may all be influenced by our childhood reading. Is it just nostalgia for a lost time, or are there more significant reasons for this magic? As the literature written for children becomes increasingly centre-stage in cultural studies, the use that children make of literature in the maturation process and to illustrate their inner worlds is a key aspect of practical and academic interest. The second children's literature conference at the University of Hertfordshire offered an opportunity to educators, psychotherapists, scholars, parents and other lovers of children's literature to meet, consider and debate the issues raised by a psychoanalytical approach to children's books with the foremost thinkers in the field. The ideas they shared are presented in this volume.
From the engaging and insightful analysis of the successful "Dr Who" television stories, by Margaret and Michael Rustin, and Rosemary Stones' psychotherapeutic view of loneliness and joy, through a witty visual presentation of Mervyn Peake's "Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor", this collection includes considerations of the mythic, of shell-shock, of fathering, of sibling rivalry, of mirroring; of loss and recovery, engagementm and learning to love. Turning these pages we come to understand the deep significance of children's literature, to recognise why and how the stories we have loved as children remain with us, and to become aware of the processes writers use as they undertake the work of creating fictions for children. This gathering of voices provides a collection of thoughts to muse upon, to challenge, to be amused by. A collection to dip into, to consider, and return to again and again.
Jenny Plastow is a lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire, a writer of stage and radio plays, and the author of "Ford Madox Ford and Englishness."