Noel Streatfeild Marcus Crouch - Essay

Marcus Crouch

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The most skilful, sincere and honest writer of [career-books]—and she was much more besides—was Noel Streatfeild…. Ballet Shoes [1936] established her immediately as a major writer for children…. [It] showed a profound understanding of child behaviour and a rare concern for accuracy in the factual background. What gave the book its enduring quality was its warm, strong tenderness. The three Fossils were characters who exist in their own right. Noel Streatfeild was too wise and industrious to adopt the soft option of a sequel, but she could not prevent the Fossils creeping back into later stories. The recurrent theme of Noel Streatfeild's writing is the virtue and the necessity of hard work; it was implicit in Ballet Shoes and was the very heart of The Circus is Coming…. Nothing ever came easy to her heroes and heroines. She showed in precise detail the stages of progress towards success and the rewards, in terms of self-respect, of success. Hers were, almost in Victorian terms, 'moral' and 'success' stories, but the moral was not imposed on a story but came from the heart of the writer. (p. 79)

Marcus Crouch, "Renaissance," in his Treasure Seekers and Borrowers: Children's Books in Britain 1900–1960 (© Marcus Crouch, 1962), The Library Association, 1962, pp. 55-86.∗