Work Title: Bookwomen: Creating an Empire in Children's Book Publishing, 1919--1939
Work Author(s): Jacalyn Eddy
University of Wisconsin Press
6 photographs, 207 pages, Softcover $29.95
Reviewer: Amy Rea
Given the abundance of quality children's literature available today, and given the strong presence of women in the American workforce, it's sometimes difficult to believe that only 100 years ago, neither scenario was widely available and accepted. In the period between 1919--1939, these two situations converged as a group of women, known as "Bookwomen," worked to provide literature for children other than trashy books, while developing and fighting for the rights for their own careers. In this compelling new book, a specific group of women---two librarians, two editors, and the founders of the children's periodical Horn Book---are profiled for their contributions both to the world of literature and to women's rights.
As the author explains, the fact that these women had the careers they had was astonishing for the time period. The worlds of publishing and libraries were male-dominated, and women were not welcomed with open arms. Women weren't expected to have careers, or even want them, Eddy points out: "fewer social expectations for women's careers meant fewer consequences for failing. Because less prestige was tied to a woman's career, it was easier to live without one." But the Bookwomen were determined to create a world of high-quality children's literature, and together they formed an...