AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

"The great fairy science": the marriage of natural history and fantasy in Victorian children's literature

by Joseph D. Green

Institution: University of Missouri – Columbia
Year: 2009
Record ID: 1854407
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10355/9859


This dissertation explores the merging of two unlikely literary - natural history writing and fantasy - as a subgenre of mid - to late nineteenth century British children's literature. Tailoring natural history for children, the religiously-motivated writers discussed in this study desired to instill in their readers a respect and appreciation for nature. As the nineteenth century advanced, the natural world for many Victorians slowly lost its moral and divine significance in the face of rapid economic, technological, and scientific change. From the natural theology of Margaret Gatty to the providence-guided evolution of Charles Kingsley to the spirituality of Arabella Buckley, I contend that these writers coupled fantasy with science and natural history to invest nature again with the wonder and mystery that modernity had taken away.