Science in Wonderland: The scientific fairy tales of Victorian Britain

Hardcover | March 27, 2015

byMelanie Keene

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In Victorian Britain an array of writers captured the excitement of new scientific discoveries, and enticed young readers and listeners into learning their secrets, by converting introductory explanations into quirky, charming, and imaginative fairy-tales; forces could be fairies, dinosaurscould be dragons, and looking closely at a drop of water revealed a soup of monsters.Science in Wonderland explores how these stories were presented and read. Melanie Keene introduces and analyses a range of Victorian scientific fairy-tales, from nursery classics such as The Water-Babies to the little-known Wonderland of Evolution, or the story of insect lecturer Fairy Know-a-Bit.In exploring the ways in which authors and translators - from Hans Christian Andersen and Edith Nesbit to the pseudonymous "A.L.O.E." and "Acheta Domestica" - reconciled the differing demands of factual accuracy and fantastical narratives, Keene asks why the fairies and their tales were chosen as anappropriate new form for capturing and presenting scientific and technological knowledge to young audiences. Such stories, she argues, were an important way in which authors and audiences criticised, communicated, and celebrated contemporary scientific ideas, practices, and objects.

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In Victorian Britain an array of writers captured the excitement of new scientific discoveries, and enticed young readers and listeners into learning their secrets, by converting introductory explanations into quirky, charming, and imaginative fairy-tales; forces could be fairies, dinosaurscould be dragons, and looking closely at a dro...

Melanie Keene is a historian of science for children, based at Homerton College, Cambridge. She has published several academic and popular articles on scientific books and objects from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, on topics from candles, pebbles, or cups of tea, to board games, toy sets, and model dinosaurs.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.1 inPublished:March 27, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199662657

ISBN - 13:9780199662654

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Nothing But Facts?1. Once Upon a Time2. Real Fairy Folk3. Domestic Fairylands4. Wonderlands of Evolution5. Through Magic Glasses6. Technological MarvelsConclusion: Stranger Than FictionNotesReferencesIndex