Naturally, we associate particular names with various genres of literature or other forms of the written word. We undoubtedly recognize such authors, poets, playwrights, and novelists for their legendary compositions (as we should), but more often than not, their masterful displays overshadow other creative writings done outside of their celebrated works. Hazily hearing the name “Tolstoy” is enough to instantly recall the fiction novel War & Peace, but rarely is much of the esteemed author’s other work called to mind in such haste.
Maria Popova at Brainpickings.org has compiled a list of 7 “little-known children’s books by beloved authors of literature for grown-ups,” featuring celebrated authors such as James Joyce, Mark Twain, and T.S. Eliot. Popova provides insight and background information on each selection, writing the following in regard to English novelist, Mary Shelley’s children’s book:
“Between the time Mary Shelley published anonymous edition of her iconic Frankenstein in London in 1818 and the publication of the second edition in France in 1823, where her name appears for the first time, she penned Maurice, or The Fisher’s Cot— a children’s story Shelley wrote in 1820 for a daughter of friends. Shelley tried to have the story published by her father, William Godwin, but he refused, burying the text for nearly two centuries. In 1997, scholars discovered a manuscript copy was in Italy, considered one of modernity’s great feats of literary forensics.
The story, written in the straightforward Romantic language of poet William Wordsworth, whose work Shelley was reading at the time she composed Maurice, is about a boy searching for a home and his encounters with a traveller who turns out to be his long-lost father. With its melancholy tone and autobiographical undercurrents, the rediscovered text revealed a new glimpse of Shelley’s character and offered a precious missing link in the evolution of her literary style.”
Be sure to discover 7 More Obscure Children’s Books by Famous “Adult” Lit Authors, including Aldous Huxley, Gertrude Stein, & a charming book of jazz by Langston Hughes!