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Durable Trifles

Katharine Kittredge

Ithaca College

“‘This Little Offering’:  Child-Authored Poetry in the Late Eighteenth Century”

     Although they may be tough, no children are durable; ultimately, they all must capitulate to adulthood and allow their child-selves to drop away. Between 1800 and 1810, a public fascination with child prodigies of all kinds provided an opportunity for the preservation of the poetic expressions of a number of children.  During this time, approximately thirty-five children published books of poetry in England, Ireland, and Scotland.  Although many of the volumes were themselves insubstantial--they were bound only in flimsy paper and some contained fewer than fifty pages--they were sold, purchased, and reviewed alongside the books of adult authors.  As a result of their contemporary visibility, many of these volumes have been preserved in archives and many are now being made available through on-line resources such as ECCO and Googlebooks.  Taken together, these texts provide an opportunity to view the past through the eyes of children and also give us a rare chance to hear authentic pre-Victorian children’s voices.

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