History in Fiction

M. O. Grenby

in The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195379785
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 History in Fiction

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  • Children's Literature Studies
  • Literary Studies (19th Century)


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This article argues that attending to the various historical and geographical contexts which inform the setting of Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751 (1886) and the 1880s British milieu in which Robert Louis Stevenson wrote allows the novel to comment upon political and cultural debates of long-standing importance in British life. Kidnapped is set in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rising of 1745–6. It is a classic bildungsroman, following David from orphanhood to adulthood, and charting his psychological development and education in the ways of the world. The complete fusion of Stevenson's individual characters' narratives and their psychological drama with the complex historical setting was one of his greatest achievements in Kidnapped. The picturesque was both political and psychologically crucial, as only a full investigation of the novel's multiple contexts can reveal.

Keywords: Kidnapped; Robert Louis Stevenson; Jacobite Rising; David; psychological drama; orphanhood; adulthood

Article.  8601 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Children's Literature Studies ; Literary Studies (19th Century)

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