The Puffin Story Books Phenomenon: Popularization, Canonization and Fantasy, 1941‒1979

  • Keith O’SullivanEmail author
Part of the Critical Approaches to Children's Literature book series (CRACL)


This essay argues that the history of Puffin Books is one of the democratization, popularization and canonization of literature for children through paperback publishing.

The imprint’s deliberate strategy of situating new works in a popular series that also republished what were generally regarded as established classics of high literature cleverly elevated the perception, and arguably the status, of contemporary writing for children in the cultural imagination of mid-century, post-war Britain. Puffin Books’ success in popularizing and canonizing literature for children, especially fantasy, through the democratic form of the paperback, is testament to the foundations laid by its first editors, Eleanor Graham and Kaye Webb, and founders, Allen Lane and Noel Carrington.


Story Book Story Collection Secular Humanism Night Watchman Wooden Horse 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EnglishDublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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