The Adventure Story
It is hard to pin down precisely what distinguishes the adventure story from other kinds of writing for children. There are many classic texts which seem straightforwardly to fit the description. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) are often seen as forerunners. Historical novels in the vein of Sir Walter Scott became popular with children in the nineteenth century – Frederick Marryat’s Children of the New Forest (1847), for instance, or, in America, the ‘Leather-Stocking Tales’ by James Fenimore Cooper, culminating in The Last of the Mohicans (1826). High Victorian tales of quests and hazards like Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1873) or Henry Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (1885) might be regarded as characteristic of the genre. Or perhaps only those novels placing children, not adults, at the centre of events can be regarded as truly archetypical: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883), say. Some adventures seem playful, other deadly serious. Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons (1930), however exciting, is essentially an elaborate game. At around the same time the Hardy Boys (from 1927), Nancy Drew (from 1930) and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven (from 1942 and 1949) were unmasking hardened villains and solving serious crimes – although these are hardly ‘hard-boiled’ thrillers. In novels like Ian Serraillier’s The Silver Sword (1956) or Anne Holm’s I Am David (1963), with their protagonists on the run from persecution, the
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Publication information: Book title: Children's Literature. Contributors: M. O. Grenby - Author. Publisher: Edinburgh University Press. Place of publication: Edinburgh. Publication year: 2008. Page number: 170.
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