Children’s literature is often contested ground in regard to values, and that was definitely the case in the USA in the nineteenth century. Since American children’s literature was commonly seen as a way to inculcate moral values and useful knowledge into the budding citizens of the new nation, fairy tales were regarded with suspicion by some authors and publishers. Others, however, added their own fairy tales to those of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, which were available in the US in translation.
In this paper, I will examine two of those American books of fairy tales, written by the man of letters and editor Horace E. Scudder: Seven Little People and Their Friends (1862), and Dream Children (1864). Scudder, who was the editor of the prestigious Atlantic Monthly 1890-1898, probably did more to promote a more imaginative literature for American children than anybody else in the nineteenth century. For instance, he persuaded Hans Christian Andersen to contribute to the Riverside Magazine for Young People, a high-quality children’s periodical, which ran from 1867 to 1870 with Scudder as editor. Scudder also compiled The Children’s Book (1881), an anthology of literature – fables, stories, and poems – suitable for the first four grades in school. In 1894, he published a collection of his own essays on Childhood in Literature and Art. The question is: what values do Scudder’s fairy tales endorse?
American Values: Public Virtues, Private Vices? THE 24th Biennial NAAS Conference On American Studies University of Oulu, Finland, May 11-13, 2015