University of Melbourne Magazine

Exhibition charts the rise of children's stories

  • edit_AldineAdventuresCover-3MB_AMThe rise of children’s adventure stories – and the changing society they reflect – are explored in an exhibition at the Baillieu Library on Parkville campus. 

    Reading adventures showcases a range of adventure narratives from the University Library’s collections, ranging from early examples from the 1740s such as Gulliver’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe, to stories set across Britain’s far-flung empire. 

    The exhibition examines the growing popularity of adventure fiction during the 19th century, as printed books became more readily available and literacy rates rose. 

    It also charts how these texts developed in response to the changing society their readers lived in. For example, while they were originally aimed at young boys, by the end of the 19th century perceptions of girlhood were changing, and adventure stories featuring heroines began to emerge. Reading adventures includes a number of books written specifically for young girls and considers how these narratives responded to the emancipation of women. 

    The exhibition includes books by well-known favourites including RM Ballantyne and GA Henty, as well as forgotten tales such as With Lucinda in London and Jean and the Island Castaway.  

    Reading adventures runs at the Noel Shaw Gallery until 21 February 2016.