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Title: Camping and tramping, Swallows and Amazons
Author: Sheeky, Hazel
ISNI:       0000 0004 2731 3242
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2012
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For many in Britain, the interwar period was a time of significant social, political and cultural anxiety. In the aftermath of the First World War, with British imperial power apparently waning, and with the politics of class becoming increasingly pressing, many came to perceive that traditional notions of British, and particularly English, identity were under challenge. The interwar years saw many cultural responses to the concerns these perceived challenges raised, as seen in H. V. Morton’s In Search of England (1927) and J. B. Priestley’s English Journey (1934). The sense of socio-cultural crisis was also registered in children’s literature. This thesis will examine one significant and under-researched aspect of the responses to the cultural anxieties of the inter-war years: the ‘camping and tramping’ novel. The term ‘camping and tramping’ refers to a sub-genre of children’s adventure stories that emerged in the 1930s. These novels focused on the holiday leisure activities – generally sailing, camping and hiking - of largely middle-class children in the British (and most often English) countryside. Little known beyond Arthur Ransome’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’ novels (1930-1947), this thesis undertakes a full survey of camping and tramping fiction, developing for the first time a taxonomy of this sub-genre (chapter one). It also investigates the cultural meanings of the principal activities that quickly became characteristic of camping and tramping novels (chapter two). Besides this survey and accompanying analysis, this thesis also undertakes a thorough examination of the contexts of camping and tramping fiction. It firmly situates camping and tramping novels within the socio-cultural debates and anxieties from which they emerged and with which they continually engaged. Chapter three concentrates on how camping and tramping fiction responded to the challenges posed by the democratisation of leisure and particularly demands for more open access to the countryside. Chapter four is also focused on exploration of the land, but examines the novels through the lens of contemporary colonial and cartographic discourses. Chapter five turns to consider more specifically the maritime traditions with which camping and tramping fiction engaged, in particular Ransome’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series. It is argued throughout this thesis that camping and tramping fiction responded to perceived challenges to Britishness by creating a powerful myth of nationhood as rooted in rural and, maritime traditions. This reformulation sought to manage changes to national identity by endorsing largely middle-class social and cultural agendas and validating middle-class values. This thesis argues for the cultural significance of camping and tramping fiction, something previously largely unnoticed. These novels were fully engaged in the social, cultural and political debates of the time and, as such, can be viewed as both reflecting contemporary cultural anxieties and as helping to construct new narratives of national identity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available