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Round the Globe: Travel Routes of Children’s Literature is a collaborative project investigating how the history of children’s literature was shaped by transnational trade, colonization, evangelism, and struggles for independence. Our name, Round the Globe, is a reference to the slew of mid-to-late nineteenth-century book series with names signaling global aspirations—including global content, global knowledge, global coverage, and/or global circulation. The name was specifically used for a series by British publisher Frederick Warne, better known for publishing Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books, but other similar series include Popular Histories of Foreign Lands, the Travel-Adventure Series, the Traveler Tales Series, and the Wonderful Globe Series. The name also references rhetoric used by missionary organizations such as the Religious Tract Society, whose annual reports were titled with phrases like Round the World with the Printed Page, For All Nations and Peoples, and For All the World. Additionally, the term was also used by children's periodicals such as Boys' Own Paper to indicate a global readership and community of childhood, which was at odds with the harsh realities of colonial rule.
Our use of this name is meant in some sense to be descriptive, as we are tracing the global spread of children’s literature from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, but it is also intended to update what is meant by global knowledge and to call attention to the often quite narrow understanding of the globe used in these series. Many early global publishing initiatives were driven by what Audra Diptee and David V. Trotman have called “the battle over childhood and youth” “at the heart of the colonial enterprise.” Our project, conversely, reckons with the actual global impacts of children’s literature, contextualizing its history within a framework recognizing diverse local responses and innovations. We aim to create an international community of scholars and to engage in public outreach that gives people around the world an opportunity to contribute.
Pictured text is an interactive map frontispiece from J. Goldsmith's popular A Grammar of General Geography (1819), which circulated to the Caribbean, among other places. Readers could spin a paper wheel to visualize whether it was morning, evening, or night in 34 locations around the world. By happenstance, this particular copy was photographed with Madras, India on top and London, England upside down.