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Artful DodgersReconceiving the Golden Age of Children's Literature$
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Marah Gubar

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336252

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336252.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 06 December 2021

Burnett, Barrie, and the Emergence of Children’s Theatre

Burnett, Barrie, and the Emergence of Children’s Theatre

(p.180) 6 Burnett, Barrie, and the Emergence of Children’s Theatre
Artful Dodgers

Marah Gubar (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces how Frances Hodgson Burnett and J. M. Barrie both participated in and resisted the creation of the emerging subgenre of children’s theatre. On the one hand, Little Lord Fauntleroy and Peter Pan drew large numbers of children into the playhouse, and turn-of-the-century commentators credited them with helping to establish the category of “children’s play” as a distinct dramatic genre. On the other hand, when we compare these two dramas to other productions which aimed to attract child playgoers during this time, it becomes evident that Burnett and Barrie were resisting the increasing pressure to cater shows specifically and exclusively to the young. Even as more and more critics began to insist that children needed their own specially simplified and sanitized shows, these playwrights stubbornly continued to include “adult” content in their dramas, clinging to the old pantomime tradition of trying to attract a mixed audience and resisting the idea that children needed to be shielded from such matters and addressed in very different terms from adults. Their plays thus provide a final piece of support for Gubar’s argument that Golden Age authors often resisted the growing pressure to conceive of the young as a race apart.

Keywords:   child playgoers, children’s plays, Little Lord Fauntleroy, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, J. M. Barrie, Frances Hodgson Burnett, E. L. Blanchard, pantomime, all-child productions

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