Bloomfield’s Writing for Children

Robert Bloomfield twice wrote works explicitly for a juvenile audience. Little Davy’s New Hat was first published in 1815 and went through three separate editions by 1824. The Bird and Insects’ Post Office, which Bloomfield was writing with his son Charles at the time of his death, was published posthumously in his Remains (1824). With these texts, Bloomfield tried his hand at what was, in the early nineteenth century, a relatively new genre. In addressing a juvenile audience, Bloomfield joined some of the most important authors of the age. A re-examination of the works for children demonstrates how Bloomfield fully participates in his Romantic cultural moment. While differing in style and in audience, these two texts are also very much of a piece with Bloomfield’s other core moral and artistic concerns. Although celebrating Bloomfield’s children’s books could be seen as inviting the risk of once again relegating Bloomfield to the status of naïf—a writer capable only of simple works and observations because of his laboring-class background—if we understand them in relation to the rest of Bloomfield’s achievements they appear less anomalous and less simplistic. Both works are unafraid to contend with life’s harsher realities even as they perform the typical moral function of children’s literature and extol the virtues of charity and kindness to the poor and to animals.