Colonial Girls’ Literature and the Politics of Archives in the Digital Age


  • Michelle J Smith The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Kristine Moruzi The University of Alberta, Canada



colonial girls' literature, politics of archival collections


The history of colonial children’s literature is intriguingly complex. Most of the books and magazines that colonial children read, by both British and colonial authors, were produced in London and then shipped to the colonies. Yet alongside these texts are others that were written and published in the colonies themselves, only occasionally making their way back to the metropole. Some colonial novels for young people remain well known, like Mary Grant Bruce’s Billabong series or L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. But what of the many other texts, the ones that were published in Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand, and seem to have disappeared from the history of children’s literature? Attempts to recover this history are complicated by the canonisation of particular children’s texts, a process that narrows the definition of the field to texts popularised by the academy through teaching and research. Moreover, historical children’s literature can be difficult to make accessible to scholars and students because many of the texts are out of print, which may have contributed to the under-representation of certain texts in undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Critical editions of historical children's literature tend to concentrate on frequently taught texts, which reinforces those texts as the most interesting and important in the field.


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Author Biographies

  • Michelle J Smith, The University of Melbourne, Australia

    Michelle J. Smith is an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow in English at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of Empire in British Girls' Literature and Culture: Imperial Girls, 1880-1915 (Palgrave, 2011), which was recently won the ESSE award for best first book (English Literature). Michelle has published numerous book chapters, primarily on the intersections of gender and empire in print culture, as well as articles in Continuum, Victorian Periodicals Review, English Literature in Transition and The Lion and the Unicorn.

  • Kristine Moruzi, The University of Alberta, Canada

    Kristine Moruzi has recently completed a Grant Notley Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, where she examined representations of girlhood in Canadian children's literature between 1840 and 1940. Her book, Constructing Girlhood through the Periodical Press, 1850-1915, was recently published by Ashgate Press. Refereed publications based on her research have appeared in Children’s Literature Association QuarterlyAustralian Journal of Victorian StudiesWomen’s Writing, and Victorian Periodicals Review.


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How to Cite

“Colonial Girls’ Literature and the Politics of Archives in the Digital Age” (2012) Papers: Explorations into Children’s Literature, 22(1), pp. 33–42. doi:10.21153/pecl2012vol22no1art1130.

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