“To write for children, and to write well”: Protestant Mission Presses and the Development of Children’s Literature in Late-nineteenth and Early-twentieth century China

Shih-Wen Sue Chen


This article uses a new historicist approach to examine the complex relationships between translators, writers, and missionary publishers in China, and their financial supporters in the United States and Britain to demonstrate how they influenced the development of Chinese children’s literature. It focuses on the case of the American Presbyterian Mission Press, Chinese Religious Tract Society, and Christian Literature Society for China, publishers of many texts for children. The article argues that the Western mission presses shaped Chinese children’s literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by introducing new narratives through translation, highlighting the importance of including visual images in children’s texts by importing electrotypes and lithographic prints from the United States and Britain, and training Chinese students in new engraving and printing techniques which allowed them to establish their own publishing houses.


mission presses; China; Chinese children’s literature; Christianity; translation; publishing history; print culture

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14811/clr.v39i0.252


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Barnboken – Journal of Children's Literature Research eISSN 2000-4389
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