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British children's books and the first world war 1914-2007

Budgen, David (2010) British children's books and the first world war 1914-2007. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94244) (KAR id:94244)

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This thesis traces the developments in understanding of the First World War through the medium of children's books. Utilising novels, school textbooks, comics and story papers, it examines the changing attitudes towards the conflict, assesses the reasons behind such varying viewpoints, and examines the role children's writers play in establishing such perspectives. Chapter one focuses on the war years, 1914 to 1918. This period saw a plethora of material being produced for the young. Children's books were propagandistic, and often presented a view of the Great War that was far removed from reality. Often, it is argued, writers fell back on interpreting the war using more traditional understandings of warfare that both they and their audiences were familiar with. Chapter two looks at similar sources for the period 1919-1945. It examines the material in the context of other debates that were occurring in society at that time regarding the legacy of the war. Moreover, it assesses the extent to which the war could be presented in the same way to children as it had been during the conflict, given the greater knowledge in society about the experience of the war. Chapter three traces these ideas through the period after the Second World War up to the beginning of the twenty-first century. It argues that modern writers have used the war to comment on their own society; negative aspects of the war came to represent the extent to which modem society had changed for the better. Because of this the understanding of the war has been reduced to a few key, yet unrepresentative events. Furthermore, writers have been actively engaged in defending their interpretation of the conflict from modem historians who have attempted to present a more nuanced view of the Great War. These debates are still continuing.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Connelly, Mark L.
Thesis advisor: Welch, David
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94244
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I (1914-1918)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2022 13:27 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2022 13:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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