Interview: Elwyn Jenkins Studies Past and Present South African Children’s Literature
In an interview with Margaret von Klemperer of The Witness, Professor Elwyn Jenkins reflects on the history of English writing for children in South Africa and what children are drawn to reading now. His book, Seedlings: English Children’s Reading and Writers in South Africa, is an entertaining collection of academic essays and articles that covers both the history and the current state of South African children’s literature.
Professor Elwyn Jenkins’s interest in books for children started as part of his job of teaching English teachers — though, of course, it really began in his own childhood when his favourites included the Swallows and Amazons books by Arthur Ransome, Kipling’s short stories and Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka trilogy. He didn’t read much South African writing then, but that is where his interest has now taken him.
Jenkins is professor emeritus and professor extraordinary in the department of English studies at Unisa, and a past president of the English Academy of Southern Africa. His fourth book on South African children’s literature in English, Seedlings, has just been published and will be formally launched at a children’s literature conference at the University of the North West later this year.
- Seedlings: English Children’s Reading and Writers in South Africa by Elwyn Jenkins