Reading Group: Children’s Literature about the USSR, introduced by Professor Kimberley Reynolds

Land of Soviets election


The Anglo-Russian Research Network will be holding its autumn reading group at 5:00 on Friday 4 October at Pushkin House. The discussion will be led by Kimberley Reynolds, Professor of Children’s Literature at Newcastle University. The readings are:

1 Draft of Kimberley’s chapter on children’s books about the Soviet Union published in Britain in the 1930s and 1940s.

2 Extract from Geoffrey Trease, Red Comet: A Tale of Travel in the U.S.S.R. (1936): chapter 6, ‘A New Kind of Park’

3  Extracts from Marjorie Fischer, Palaces on Monday (1937): chapters 6 ‘Upside Down’, 7 ‘And the Moral of That is’, and 9 ‘Black Boy on the Volga’

4 Extract from Pearl Binder, Russian Families (1942): start from bottom of page 47 ‘Mamma Pavolova’

‘The material to be discussed is based on a chapter I am writing for a book about the radical children’s books of the early twentieth century that do not feature in established histories of children’s literature. This chapter looks at representations of the Soviet Union in children’s books published in the 1930s and 1940s in the UK. The chapter will also cover books from the USSR that were published here in translation, but I have not included any of these in the extracts for discussion. Most of the works I discuss are forms of travel writing in that the children in them move between different cities, resorts and regions and give their impressions of the people and projects they see. My interest, and where I will particularly appreciate guidance from the group, is in the way the Soviet experiment was being presented to British children.’

Kimberley Reynolds is Professor of Children’s Literature in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University. She has lectured and published widely on a variety of aspects of children’s literature, most recently in the form of an audio book, Children’s Literature Between the Covers (Modern Scholar, 2011) and the volume on Children’s Literature in the Oxford University series of Very Short Introductions (2011).  With Matthew Grenby she editedChildren’s Literature Studies: A Research Handbook (Palgrave, 2011). She currently holds a Major Leverhulme Fellowship to research ‘Modernism, the Left and Progressive Publishing for Children, 1910 – 1949’. She is the 2013 recipient of the International Brothers Grimm Award.

You can listen to a podcast of the reading group below:

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