Castle Blair by Flora L. Shaw

Written at the urging of John Ruskin, recommended as exemplary fiction for children by Minerva Sanders in her 1890 Reading of the Young report because it depicted real children, Shaw's book is an interesting puzzle to me. It certainly fits the idea that approved children's fiction was written from any perspective but that of lower-class children. These children are the heirs and heiresses to an Irish estate.

They also have little inherent moral sense, especially the eldest boy, Murtagh, whose temper almost causes him to have the estate manager killed by one of his non-wealthy friends.

The poor children are there for the amusement of the rich children. They even tell Teresa at one point. Murtagh declares that they will "protect" her, and his sister Winnie agrees, saying: "Why, ye live on our land, don't you? So we're bound to protect you even if we didn't want to." (p. 55)

I'll be thinking about this one for awhile... there could be a paper in this, if I wanted to pursue it, following up on the book chapter about how adult approval of fiction for children correlated with the social class of the children depicted in the story.

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