José Ruiz Mas (University of Granada, Spain)
Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, 4.1, (2012)
In this article I endeavour to analyse the image of relevant Spanish historical figures such as King Pedro I, Catherine of Aragon, Christopher Columbus, Philip II, the Spanish Armada and other pro-Spanish English characters such as Mary I, as depicted in Charles Dickens’ A Child’s History of England (1851-53). In his overtly didactic attempt to convey a specific image of the legendary antagonism existing between Spain and England to his contemporary English children and youngsters through this peculiar history book, Dickens amply shows his prejudiced view of Spanish history and his overtly patriotic description of England’s history. Proof of the relevance and the persistence of Dickens’ anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic attitude that prevailed in English society throughout the second half of the 19th century is that C. R. L. Fletcher and Rudyard Kipling insist on similar ideas of Anglo-Spanish relations in A School History of England(1911).
Charles Dickens is not usually remembered as the author of A Child’s History of England, a history book for children published serially in Household Words between January 1851 and December 1853. This simplified history of England was written with the purpose of making English history understandable for children as well as for those not so young. The idea of writing an adapted history book came to Dickens’ mind in 1843, when his first-born Charley was six years old. However, when he actually had it published, his son was no longer a child but near sixteen when he published the first part, and around eighteen when the book was ended, a fact that proves the writer’s intention to cater for youths more than actual children, in spite of the title.