American Boys' Clothes: Literary References


Figure 1.--"The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James is a ghost tale that was written in 1898, which became widely popular. There have been several film versions, such as the 1959 version with Ingrid Bergman in the lead role and Haywood Morse as the boy Miles. He looks to be wearing an Eton jacket and shirt with Eton collar on the cover. Iíve just speed scanned the text looking for clothing descriptions, but there does not appear to be any." I'm not surewho did the cove illustration.

There is a great deal of fashion information in literature. As it is literature and not actual history, the comments on clothing have to be taken with caution. Authors vary as to how accurately they write about fashion and other historical cultural matters used to flesh out their plots and characters. Of course the most reliable fashion references are those in contemprary works. There are various types of literature of interest to HBC. We note useful information in both novels and children literature. Of special interest to HBC is the large number of boy characters in British literature. Of course one helpful aspect of many books are the often fascinating literay accounts which help describe characters and cultural trends.

Fashion Information

There is a great deal of fashion information in literature. As it is literature and not actual history, the comments on clothing have to be taken with caution. Authors vary as to how accurately they write about fashion and other historical cultural matters used to flesh out their plots and characters. Of course the most reliable fashion references are those in contemprary works.

Types of Literature

There are various types of literature of interest to HBC. We note useful information in both novels and children literature.

Novels

There is a great deal of interesting fashion information in American novels. There are useful refrence to fashion in novels for the simple reason that fashion is important to people. Novels are all about describing the human condition. Thus novelists have to address what is important to people. Not all novels however, have fashion information. Of course a major part of any novel is developing the character of the key people in the novel. Of course many people express their character in the clothes they choose. In other instances clothes are determined by the circumstances in which they find themselves. There areseveral references to clothing in the books by Frances Hogdsen Burnett, especially Little Lord Fauntleroy.

Biographies

There is also a great deal of fashion information in biographies and autobiographies. This information tends to be highly reliable. We have archieved this infomation in the biography section of HBC. We do not yet, however, have a separate English biograohy section.

Children's literature

There are many important America children's books. There appears to hav been more English books in the 19th century, but by the 20th century, large number of childrn books weew alo being published in the United States. There were also many popular annuals and monthly publications with stories by lesser know authors. Much of this literature in the late and early 20th century was aimed at boys from comfortable if not affluent families. Since World War II (1939-45) the focus of American children's literature has change markedly and the target audience broadened considerably. We also note different kind of publications. There were monthly and annual as well as omnibus publications which might combine stories, comics, and activity suggestions.

Boy Characters

Of special interest to HBC is the large number of boy characters in American literature. Many famous liteary characters are boys. A few novels are set around their boyhood experiences. Some of the first known boyhood literary characters, and some of the most beloved, are English and American. Many figures in American literature have indeed emerged as some of the most famous boy characters in English literature (Cedric Erols, Huckleberry Finn, Dennis Mitchell, Penrod, Tom Sawyer, and others).

Illustrators

Of course one helpful aspect of many books are the often fascinating illustrations. A very important part of any children' books are the illustrations. Many of us adults can remember missing the declining use of illustrations in books as we grew up.e begin to note American illustrators after the Civil War as printing tecniques improved . The first important one was True Williams who illustrated The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for Mark Twain, although these were as much adult as children's books. Some of the finest early illustrations's were Reginald Birch's drawings for Little Lord Fauntleroy. After the turn of the 20th century, color lothography improved to the point that children's books could be illustrated in color. The result was the appearance of a remarkable number of brilliant illustrators and the Golden Age of Illustration in America. Some of these illustrators we know a good bit about. Others we have been able to find virtually no information about their lives and careers.







HBC




Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main American page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Essays] [Literature]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossary] [Satellite sites] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]



Created: July 8, 2003
Last updated: October 13, 2003