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'Marvellous and Mischievous: Literature's Young Rebels' on view at the British Library
Child's First Tales written by the Brontë sisters' headmaster, circa 1829 © British Library Board.



LONDON.- Marvellous and Mischievous: Literature’s Young Rebels (8 November 2019 – 1 March 2020) is a free British Library exhibition spotlighting famous rebels in children’s literature. Featuring such perennial favourites as Tracy Beaker, Pippi Longstocking, Jane Eyre and Matilda, as well as new characters including Omar from Planet Omar, Billy from Billy and the Beast and Dirty Bertie, this exhibition shines a light on the Library’s vast collection of children’s literature and explore an array of vibrant characters who break the rules and defy conventions.

Books and manuscripts from the Library’s collections, in addition to original artwork, tell the history of rebels in children’s literature, from the 17th century to items published as recently as this year. In addition, there are also loan items from Axel Scheffler, Beano Studios and DC Thomson & Co. Ltd., David Roberts, Lauren Child, Marie-Alice Harel, Sir Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, The Folio Society, Seven Stories and Zanib Mian to help illustrate the history of children’s books and their ongoing relevance today.

The exhibition highlights how rebels in children’s literature have been presented in many different ways: characters who stand up for what they believe in, break away from convention, have a cause they are striving for, are extremely resilient, survive difficult situations, or are just slightly mischievous.

Exploring characters’ adventures as well as adversities at home, at school and on journeys, the exhibition also includes interactive elements such as the opportunity to write your own story, or dress up as a rebel. Exhibition cases have been lowered especially for this exhibition so young visitors are able to engage with the literature and artwork on display.

Amongst the recognisable characters on display, highlight items also include:

• The oldest item in the exhibition, a Latin textbook containing doodles from rebellious schoolboys, titled Sententiæ pueriles,1680

• A first edition of Pippi Longstocking published in Sweden, 1945, a character who protects the vulnerable and stands up to adults

• The first UK edition of Anne of Green Gables, 1908, an imaginative, impulsive character who changes those around her with the force of her personality

• The first version of Cruikshank’s colour illustrations of Oliver Twist, a young boy who challenges his position by “asking for more”

• The Boy at the Back of the Class, by Onjali Raúf, winner of best story at the Blue Peter Book Awards (2019) and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2019 detailing the power of friendship and shedding light on the refugee crisis

• Jessica Love’s Julian is a Mermaid (2018), an exploration of self-identity

• Original artworks by much-loved illustrators including Axel Scheffler (Zog), Sir Quentin Blake (Matilda), Nick Sharratt (Tracy Beaker), Judith Kerr (When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit), which also demonstrate the crucial relationship between authors and illustrators in the creation of children’s literature.

Lucy Evans, lead curator of Marvellous and Mischievous: Literature’s Young Rebels, said: ‘Marvellous and Mischievous is a fun, interactive exhibition all about exploring what makes a young ‘rebel’ in children’s stories. Children’s literature over the last 300 years has shown that rebels come in all shapes and sizes from the wilful, bold Matilda, the ambitious Princess Pearl to the resilient Ahmet from The Boy at the Back of the Class. Many of the books displayed in the exhibition share powerful messages highlighting contemporary themes prevalent amongst the younger generation and illustrate how literature can inspire and motivate society today.’










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