Professor Shu-Fang Lai (National Sun Yat-Sen University, Taiwan, and IASH Fellow): Robert Chambers as a Writer for Children seen in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal

Event date: 
Wednesday 30 August
Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, 2 Hope Park Square

Robert Chambers as a Writer for Children seen in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal

Professor Shu-Fang Lai, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Taiwan / IASH


Robert Chambers (1802-71) has been renowned mainly for his founding Chambers's Edinburgh Journal in 1832 with his brother William and their publishing firm, his publishing biographical accounts of Burns and Scott, his collections of Scottish rhymes and ballads and encycolpaedical reference books on the history of Scotland (such as accounts about its capital city Edinburgh and eminent Scots), and to those who interested in Victorian science, his writing anonymously Vestiges of Creation (1844) as representative of pre-Darwinian evolutionary thinking. However, not usually noticed nor explored is Chambers’s own literary merit as a writer of Scottish children’s literature. My work is an attempt to look at Robert Chambers from the point of view of children’s literature, and to study his writings for children in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal he himself edited, in particular, during the time when he was cultivating thoughts on nature and evolution. I will focus on his ideas about education and entertainment for young readers, his attitudes toward humans and animals (especially his writings on talking animals), and his story-telling techniques. I will also explore the images of Scottish children and childhood as represented in his journalism, and highlight the contributions Chambers has made to the rich cultural heritage of children’s literature in Victorian Scotland.