As I have written already on this blog (here), children can begin to write from a very young age. While their earliest attempts at writing, even before the age of 12 months can be seen 'just' as scribble, many young children soon develop a desire to do more than simply making their marks on paper; they begin to play with language and words, often in combination with their early drawings.
Many great writers become aware very early in life that they have a great desire to write, sometimes for self, but often for others. The study of early writing (and art) has been termed Juvenilia, drawing from the Latin meaning "things from youth". I had the pleasure of spending a number of years on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Juvenilia Press at the University of New South Wales. The Juvenilia Press is currently one of the passions of Christine Alexander, Scientia Professor in English Literature at the University of New South Wales. Professor Alexander is a prominent Australian editor and writer on the Brontës, including their juvenilia
The Juvenilia Press was founded in 1994 by Juliet McMaster at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. It moved to UNSW in 2001 when Christine Alexander became the General Editor. It promotes the study of literary juvenilia (writing up to 20 years of age) of recognised adult writers. It offers insights into the later work of successful writers. It has an international team of contributing editors from Britain, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the USA and Australia.
The Juvenilia Press, as its website suggests, is more than just a publishing project:
The Juvenilia Press was originally conceived as a university/classroom project. While it has grown well beyond those limits, pedagogy remains at the core of its mandate. Students are involved in every volume in some capacity, whether that be writing introductions, researching annotations, learning the importance of textual editing, drawing illustrations, or developing a book's layout and design. Working under the guidance of established international scholars, they gain invaluable experience, practical skills, and publication.The format of the publications is similar each time. A theoretical essay is included to introduce the work and is written by the editor of the work. This is then followed by the juvenilia that is published with original illustrations when available.
The works published to date
Juvenilia Press has published 44 works since 1994, some of which I reviewed in my previous post (here). The writers whose early work has been published include Jane Austen, Charlotte & Branwell Brontë, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), George Eliot, Margaret Atwood, Greg Hollingshead, Margaret Laurence, Rudy Wiebe, Opal Whiteley and many others.
The Most Recent Publications
a) Mary Grant Bruce, 'The Early Tales' (2011)
b) Iris Vaughan, 'The Diary of Iris Vaughan' (Revised edition, 2010)
Peter F. Alexander and Peter Midgley have edited Iris Vaughan’s Diary, with the assistance of Sigi Howes and illustrations by J. H. Jackson. The diary was begun when Vaughan was only seven years old and is as much autobiography as Diary. It also gives a charming, keenly observed and brilliantly amusing picture of colonial Africa as Victorianism made way for the twentieth century.
c) Patrick Branwell Brontë, The History of the Young Men (2010)
d) Sarah Fyge Egerton's The Female Advocate (2010)
e) Jane Austen's 'The History of England & Cassandra's Portraits' (2009)
This edition explores the collaboration between the sisters and the way Cassandra’s illustrations extend the textual allusions to family and friends, revealing some surprises. The work was edited by Annette Upfal and Christine Alexander.
Other Posts & Resources
My previous post on Juvenilia HERE
Christine Alexander (2010). The Brontës: Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal, Selected Writings, London: Oxford University Press.