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The enjoyment of a good story

From tales of colonial adventure to moralising educational tracts, children’s literature in nineteenth-century Australia played a significant role in educating children as the nation’s future citizens. As the Library’s collections demonstrate, Australia’s women writers also played a key part in this education.

The Thyne Reid Trust Collection bookplate on the inside cover of James Skipp Borlase’s colonial adventure tales for boys published in 1894
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Scottish-born Australian writer and political reformer, Catherine Helen Spence (1825-1910), believed that at the heart of a good education is ‘the enjoyment of a good story.’ Amusement and instruction, literature and education, are all seen to go hand in hand. For many nineteenth-century educationists, like Spence, literature also played a formative role in educating children to become active citizens of the nation and Australia’s women writers took a leading part in this literature.