‘A menace to England’: The egg collector as arch-villain in two 1940s bird novels

DOBSON, Joanna (2021). ‘A menace to England’: The egg collector as arch-villain in two 1940s bird novels. Literature and History.

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    This paper examines the figure of the egg collector as an arch-villain in two novels about rare birds that were published in the 1940s: Adventure Lit Their Star by Kenneth Allsop, and The Awl Birds by J.K. Stanford. Drawing on insights from birdwatching literature published in the same period, I demonstrate that the extreme vilification of the egg collector in both texts represents a dramatic change in attitude towards a pastime that was previously considered beneficial for both adults and children. This reversal, I suggest, can be explained by reading the desperate rush to protect the birds’ eggs as an expression of deep contemporary anxieties over the future of Britain after the Second World War, and in particular a concern that the failures of the period after World War I should not be repeated.

    Item Type: Article
    Uncontrolled Keywords: 2005 Literary Studies; 2103 Historical Studies
    SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
    Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
    Date Deposited: 12 May 2021 09:19
    Last Modified: 12 May 2021 09:30
    URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/28639

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