What 'Katy' Didn't Do: The complex issues presented by the rewriting of 'classic' children's books

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2021
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Haverford College. Department of English
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Thesis
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Award
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eng
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Open Access
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Abstract
This thesis focuses on two children's novels: What Katy Did, by Susan Coolidge, published in 1872, and its 2015 ‘rewrite', Katy by Jacqueline Wilson. Although Susan Coolidge was influenced by social standards of the time, and this can be seen in her writing, in several key ways, she creates through What Katy Did a new model for childhood and children's literature. These ideas are discussed through the lens of Shirley Foster and Judy Simons' 1995 text, What Katy Read: Feminist Re-Readings of Classic Stories for Girls. Despite the ways in which What Katy Did subverted several tropes common in contemporaneous children's literature, Wilson apparently viewed the original novel as containing problems that needed to be ‘fixed', which she addresses in Katy. However, the thesis argues that Wilson has misinterpreted Coolidge's key messages, and, in addition, her attempt to ‘fix' problems present in Coolidge's work creates several new problems in her own The latter part of the thesis focuses more closely on Wilson's intentions and mistakes in rewriting What Katy Did, by examining these through the lens of the essays Realism and Moral Attitudes by Jill P. Mayand On Wearing Masks by Jill Paton Walsh.
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