Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Daring Books for Girls (And Boys)

Behold the long-awaited image of a shelf in the children's section of Foyle's Books in London. Apart from the famous "Daring" and "Dangerous" books are pocket versions and numerous other imitations.
I have received a sponsorship from the University of Melbourne's Writing Centre for Scholars and Researchers to write a popular history of the Girl Guides, so I hope the popularity of these nostalgic books is a strong reflection of reader interest in girls and adventure. As my PhD only considered the origins of the Girl Guides, I'm currently delighting in looking at all the strange and unusual material I can find in Melbourne's libraries on the Guides. The sheer wealth of material is staggering. There's everything from local association recipe books to a handwritten journal of a Guide's trip to an international camp in the 1920s, complete with her own photographs of the event pasted in. My favourite photograph so far is from a newspaper and was reprinted in a Guiding magazine. It shows a warehouse in Queensland full of boxes upon boxes of Girl Guide biscuits. There is a woman and a man sitting atop the boxes enjoying a cup of coffee and eating a biscuit. Yet placed somewhat inappropriately amidst all the Guide biscuit boxes are several cartons of XXXX beer.

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