Location: Link Gallery, Murray Library
Curator: David Bindle
This exhibition explores literature for young people published between the late 19th to early 20th centuries. The exhibit draws from two generous donations, one from the Saskatoon Public Library, which highlights a wide variety of authors – and another donation from the Marchant family, relatives of the prolific author, Bessie Marchant of Oxfordshire, who authored as many as 150 books for young readers. The Library’s collection now includes over 100 of these titles.
Marchant’s books often featured young heroines who against all odds, are able to sleuth, rescue, and survive their way through a wide variety of difficult and sometimes dangerous situations, often in far-away and exotic locales. Although she herself did not travel, she gleaned information to include in her novels from reading National Geographic, correspondence from her young fans around the world and spending many hours researching in the nearby Bodleian Library, which now recognizes her literary contributions in promotional cards and gift items. To read more about Bessie Marchant you can read her encyclopedia entry.
The exhibit harkens back to a time when reading and books had much less competition for leisurely entertainment compared to the options offered today. These books are a testament to the innocence of youth – with wondrous illustrations and themes of friends, family, fun and acts of charity, kindness and good will.