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Books for Boys: Heroism, Adventure and Empire at the Dawn of the First World War 

27 September 2014 – 11 January 2015

Palace Green Library

The exhibition celebrated a golden age of books for children. The late Victorian and Edwardian era introduced readers to classics from The Jungle Book to The Wind in the Willows. Looking also at older readers, the exhibition included tales of real-life heroes, early spy novels, and popular classics such as Scouting for Boys. Books were shown alongside toys and games of the period and author’s original manuscripts. 

Books for Boys explored the fascinating links between these stories and ideals of boyhood. In a world where patriotism and duty were often seen as the defining qualities of a manly character, thrilling tales of adventure, real-life heroes, spies and imaginary worlds were written to inspire the boys that would go on to fight in the First World War. This thought-provoking exhibition celebrated reading and revealed the stories behind some of the best-loved works of the period, comparing the books enjoyed by children in Britain and Germany. 

The first in a series linked to the national centenary commemoration of the First World War, this touring exhibition, designed and curated in-house, went on display at other National venues. 

Books for Boys young soldier illustration