This week when I was ‘researching’ for a short story I began looking back to old fairy tales and childrens books for inspiration.
I read the book of The Brothers Grimm first off and it told me a lot about the context at the time – Poor people yearning to be rich and married to suspiciously young, attractive girls but can’t be as they aren’t of ‘noble blood’. People being punished if it’s discovered they bridged the gap by any means other than a killing spree. Fascinating stuff.
The next book I read was the faraway tree triliogy by enid blyton, a book I loved when i was young, one of my favourites. Before I began I decided to see just how old this book was and was shocked to discover it was written in 1939 and onwards through the years of world war two.
This made me think of the context that must have surrounded the writing and release of these books. Europe was gripped by the war and children all around britain were being evacuated to the countryside. The first chapter made me immediately call ‘propaganda’ on it, with their family moving to the countryside from the town and their father asking if they’ll miss it.
Their answer was a resounding ‘No’. Only advertising the positives of moving to the clean countryside from the dirty town. A suspicious lack of doubt lay in that answer. They did not miss their friends in the town? They did not miss their lives?
And their time in the city was never mentioned ever, EVER again. Hmm.
Another thing I didn’t quite pick up in my first reads of this were the stereotypes thrown around blasé. Father went off to work. Mother did the washing. All the time.
At a point in the book there is a line, ‘mother hoped that there would be lots of washing to do..’ which took me aback.
Nobody was afraid of mother, but Father struck fear into their hearts, father was the disciplinarian, father had the power. Father knew best anyway. Everyone had their roles. It told a lot about the family model at the time.
The last thing I noticed this time were the unusual names of the kids that went out of fashion for some strange reason. Fanny and Dick especially.
I wonder why I didn’t notice them before (snigger).
With all of this reading done, it made me wonder – What will people in 70 years time think of what we’re writing?