The ‘New Formed Leaves’ of Juvenilia Press

By Natasha Duquette
View profile for: Dr. Natasha Duquette

Lest we dismiss the merit of such youthful writing, we need only recall that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein started as a piece of juvenilia. 1 The biased critical objection that Frankenstein is too good to have been written by a female teenager (and must have actually been written by Percy Shelley) is often leveled at young writers. Peter Paul Rubens and the Friendly Folk is a Juvenilia Press title containing text written by Opal Whitely at age six to seven, and its editor Lesley Peterson notes,“The diary was too good, it was argued, to be genuinely the production of a child so young”(vii). 2 Ultimately such incredulousness speaks more about the accuser than the writer. Why have reviewers historically been so closed to the possibility of works of genius coming from a young pen or a female pen or even more astonishingly a young, female pen?

Margaret Laurence’s sonnet qualifies as juvenilia because she was only eighteen …

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Article in ESC: English Studies in Canada
Volume #: 37
Issue #: 3-4
Pages: 201-218
Publisher: Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English
Year: 2011
ISBN/ISSN: 10.1353/esc.2011.0040

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