The assumption of the innocence of children predominates as an underlying source of emotional power in much of the children's literature which is typically denoted as 'classic'. Some texts, which appear to endure and are reread or alluded to in subsequent books and films for each generation, frequently use children as characters to signify both the loss of innocence, and the possibilities of retrieving a 'childlike' vision.
The redemptive qualities of the angelic infant are an inheritance of Romantic ideologies and continue to inform the children's literature, seeming to some critics to be placed 'beyond the shocks of history' (Plotz 2001:39). It is this image of the child, constructed by the writers of Victorian middle-class fiction, which also typifies the imagined implied readers of the children's fiction of 'the Golden Age'. This period, beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, is considered to signify the development of the distinctiveness of children's literature as a form (Hunt 1994), and produced a number or enduring works, such as those by Lewis Carroll and Charles Kingsley, which define a narrative approach which seems to speak directly to children. As Romantic notions of children as closer to the spiritual took hold of the Victorian imagination, so the texts written expressly for children produced multilayered fantasies, which revealed more about the way societies imagined childhood, perhaps, than about the reading experiences of actual children.
The second half of the nineteenth century is often claimed to be the period which offered a definition of children's literature as entertaining and subversive and produced texts which now attract adult audiences but puzzle many actual child readers. Hunt (1994: introduction) goes even farther, to claim that adults find 'solace' in these