Ashmolean DEADFriday Talk: Death in Victorian Children’s Literaure

EDIT: The Lecture is now available online – click here!

As it’s (almost!) Halloween Ashmolean LIVEFriday turns into DEADFriday this week – with all sorts of Halloween themed shenanigans in store. Next to wandering ghosts, face painting and a bar there will also be a series of public lectures & gallery pop up talks, organised by TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities).
– I will be speaking about the, slightly unusual, topic of ‘Death and Victorian Children’s Literature.

Arthur Hughes, 'At The Back of the North-Wind'

Arthur Hughes, ‘At The Back of the North-Wind’

From Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Victorian Children’s Literature was, perhaps surprisingly, filled with scenes of dying and suffering children, a reality many readers had to face in their own environment. However, searching for a sense in this, authors often gave those children fantastic dreams and visions, filled with mythological creatures which embodied ideas of death and dying, but also of nature, and for hope for rebirth eternal life. Thus stories like Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies or George MacDonald’s At the back of the North Wind give amazing insights into the Victorian search for the meaning of life, the nature of the soul and man’s place in creation.

To find out more about these fantastical Victorian journeys into the inner workings of nature and life itself – come to the Ashmolean Lecture Theatre (Level -1) at 7.45 pm! The event is ticketed. A full list of speakers and more info can be found here.

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