Young Adult novels as we know them--books intended to appeal to teens between the ages of 14 and 18--are a relatively modern phenomenon. Most of the books written for children in the earlier 19th century were intended for the very young--alphabet books, primers, fables and fairy tales. Interestingly, even books from this period with arguably young adult main characters--Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice was 20, Jane Eyre was 18--were written for adults. It wasn't until the second half of the century that writers like Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Susan Coolidge (the What Katy Did series), and Elizabeth Wetherell (The Wide, Wide World) began to address the reading needs of youth.
I'd love to create a list of 19th century YA fiction...if you have a favorite novel published in the 19th century and intended for a YA (not adult) audience, please leave a comment. I'll post the list once there are more than a few titles.
Now, about that squee mentioned in the post subject line...
This past Sunday I took a day trip into NYC to be part of a panel on teen fantasy at Books of Wonder, the largest independent children's bookstore in the city (and home of the best cupcakes in the city, too. Major yumminess.) My Bewitching Season is due out this month, but hasn't been released...so I assumed that I would be smiling and chatting and talking about my book, but alas, not signing it. However, when I walked into the store, I was confronted by this...
See that row of books on the third shelf down? Yes, you guessed it: the store had arranged to get my books in stock in time for the panel. It's a pretty emotional moment for a writer, the first moment when she sees her first book for sale in a bookstore. I didn't burst into tears, but I will admit to getting a trifle misty-eyed.
So not only did I get to go to NY and talk about Bewitching Season...I also go to sign it for people who wanted to buy it and read it.