Bedrooms on Paper: An Analysis of the Textual Representation of Children's Bedrooms in Britain, c. 1870-Present

Jamie Adcock

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis explores the representation of children’s bedrooms within three genres of consumer text. Focusing upon texts written and published between the late nineteenth century and the present day, and upon bedrooms within a British context, it examines how the bedroom has been depicted and how different kinds of text present and define the space. Reflecting upon the relationship between specific texts and depicted bedrooms, it engages with the idea that bedrooms on paper point to ideas and beliefs that influence and shape bedrooms in reality. Through an analysis of textual descriptions and visual depictions, it considers how bedrooms have been constructed, consumed and imagined since the late 1800s. The thesis is divided into three main studies. The first explores the nursery of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century through advice printed within child-rearing manuals. Examining the recommendations of publications, it opens up the space that parents were expected to provide for their children to scrutiny and reveals that the ‘ideal’ nursery was a highly regulated environment designed to support children’s bodily heath and mental development. The second reviews the representation of the bedroom within interwar (1918-1939) and post-war magazines (1945- ), a space with which most are familiar today. It concentrates specifically upon the ma¬terial culture of the bedroom and illustrates that the crafting, or materialising, of the space was a complex process involving multiple agencies and fields of practice. The third explores the imaginative geographies of bedrooms within post-war children’s picture books and considers how scenes, situations and plotlines in which bedrooms feature may potentially resonate with readers. Together, the three studies provide a sense of how the bedroom has developed since the late nineteenth century, reveal the key constituents and component practices of the space, and underline the value of texts as key material sources through which to explore everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Crang, Philip, Supervisor
  • Gilbert, David, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Oct 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


  • Bedrooms
  • Children's Bedrooms
  • Children's Geographies
  • Geographies of Home
  • Home
  • Domesticity
  • Texts
  • Textual Analysis
  • Child-Rearing Manuals
  • Magazines
  • Picture Books
  • Representations
  • Depictions
  • Nursery
  • Children
  • Parenting
  • Britain
  • Nineteenth Century
  • Twentieth Century
  • Childhood
  • Parenthood

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