The early years of the twentieth century were for Britain the end of a glorious era. Scientific and industrial progress during the previous century had brought great material benefits to much of the population.
With its great Empire and invincible Navy, Britain was the most powerful country in the world. People looked to the future with confidence, assuming that this progress would continue and that Britain would remain supreme. But with the cataclysm of the First World War, the world and Britain with it were to change forever. The 'Children's Encyclopaedia', well-known in the name of its editor Arthur Mee, was published first in serial form starting in 1908, then in eight large bound volumes in 1910.
Its lengthy articles by several contributors provide unique insights into how people lived, what they thought and how they brought up their children. How did their upbringing prepare them for the challenges of war and its aftermath? And as deeply-rooted traditions persist over several generations, have those assumptions of the Edwardian period continued to hamper Britain's adjustment to loss of Empire and a reduced role in the world?
In this book, Michael Tracy has distilled over five thousand pages of text and illustrations into a couple of hundred, conveying a vivid and comprehensive overview of life a century ago.
'Michael Tracy has done us an invaluable service by revealing to us the shape and ambition of the Encyclopaedia, and by opening up to us a world of childhood, not very distant in time, that has now vanished.
It is both an enjoyable read with a light but expert touch to the commentary, and a challenge to us to think afresh about childhood'.
Professor Hugh Cunningham
"A delightfully presented book - a treasure house that does Arthur Mee credit. His contributors and artists emerge again across a century. This book is as easy to browse in as the originals, and could become a special gift."