In the course of the nineteenth century the variety, quality and sheer bulk of children's literature increased dramatically, and it has been estimated that at least ten per cent of the titles issued by British publishers were intended for the entertainment and instruction of young people.
The texts contained in this collection reveal the values and preoccupations of society and the way in which they were recorded and transmitted, whether deliberately or unconsciously for the digestion of young people in the nineteenth century. Children's literature is a largely untapped source of information about manners, morals, family and social relationships and the details of everyday life.
Children's literature was also the medium for many of the century's most innovative and influential book illustrators.
The acquisition of copyright deposit of the productions of British publishers, which became effective from about 1840 onwards, ensured that the British Library has one of the largest collections in the world. Completed in 1999, Children's Literature contains 2,369 titles on 5,527 fiches.
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