WW1 Children’s Literature

I’ve been sent details of a conference at Dublin next June. The subject is : The First World War in European Children’s Literature: 1970-2014.
It will look at the way the War has been represented for children in the past forty years, which could be interesting, especially as it is asking for international comparisons.
During this period, though, I wonder – have there been any books for children about WW1 that have not had a worthily pacifist agenda? Morpurgo seems to tops all the lists among teachers and librarians, and is taken very seriously, despite his sentimentalities and inaccuracies. He has fans among children, too, though I think that when I was a kid I reacted very strongly against any book that was supposed to be good for me.
I don’t think I’ll be going to Dublin myself, as I’m far more interested in the children’s literature of a much earlier period. One of the subjects I want to write is the Magnet comic, and how it represented the war between 1914 and 1920 – in much more complex ways than you might think. Surely over the next four years there is going to be a conference somewhere where I can talk about this?
Here’s the complete call for papers for the Dublin conference:

The First World War in European Children’s Literature: 1970-2014

27th June 2014
Trinity Long Room Hub, Dublin

Papers are invited for a one-day international symposium on the subject of the First World War in late-twentieth and twenty-first century literature for children and young adults. Building on recent research into literary constructions of childhood in the years leading up to and during the Great War, this event will focus on the processes at play in more recent literary production, investigating and comparing representations of the War in materials produced across Europe since the beginning of the so-called ‘post-memory’ period in the 1970s right up until the present day. The symposium will be held in English but we welcome international and comparative perspectives; a particular emphasis will be placed on the translation and transnational reception of children’s war literature.

We invite proposals for twenty-minute papers that engage with any aspect of the representation of the First World War in children’s literature in this period. Proposals might engage with, for example, the works of John Boyne, John Quinn, Aubrey Flegg, Carol Ann Duffy, Michael Morpurgo, Anne-Marie Pol, Paule du Bouchet, Catherine Cuenca, Arthur Ténor , Geert Spillebeen, Klaus Kordon, or Willi Fährmann, and potential topics might include, but are not limited to:

– the challenge of representing horror and violence in children’s war literature.
– family and intergenerational memory.
– challenges specific to representing the First World War to children.
– twin tales: integrating First World War stories into other national and international historical narratives ( the Irish revolutionary period; the Second World War; the Holocaust).
– TV and film adaptations.
– translation and transnational reception
– the use of First World War literature in the classroom.
– graphic novels and picture books.
– crossover texts: teenage experiences of war as ‘adult’ fiction – ‘adult’ war fiction through teenage eyes.

Though the focus of the symposium will be on post-1970 literature, contributions on earlier material may be considered if presented in the context of modern reading culture (reception, belated canonisation, translation and re-translation etc.)

Abstracts (max. 300 words) should be submitted by e-mail to both Nóra de Buiteléir and Nora Maguire by Friday 31st January 2014



  1. Posted October 25, 2013 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    “Surely over the next four years there is going to be a conference somewhere where I can talk about this?”

    Can you not get together with like-minded WWI scholars and organize a conference that calls for papers on the topics you’d like to write or hear about?

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