Shurlee Swain
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Margot Hillel
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The body of the child
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The fictional Gladys's selfish complaint points to one of the key strategies of child rescue. Like Gladys's mother, writers had to provide the 'ghastly details' in order to create the strong visual images that would haunt the reader. Central to such visual images was a focus on the body which functioned in the literature as the site of both diagnosis and transformation. Child cruelty, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) argued, was not a function of poverty. The child body, the Society argued, needed as much protection as the animal body, adding: 'It is better today to be the pig of an English brute than to be his child. If the law indeed allowed the parent to 'do what I like with my own', then the law had to be changed.

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Child, nation, race and empire

Child rescue discourse, England, Canada and Australia, 1850–1915


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