Empire, Colonialism & Adventure

When we ruled the world

Cute Dutch racism? Het groote Negerboek. Source: Buku – Bibliotheca Surinamica

The history of adventure fiction and of European imperialism and colonialism are closely intertwined. The prototypical “ethnographic travel and adventure novel” (Sehm), of the nineteenth century was essentially an expression of Europe’s colonial expansion (16th-early 20th century), both contributing to the spread of knowledge about the (extra-European) world and propagating imperialist, colonialist and racist world views especially among the young.

In the Armchair Sailor’s Storybook you can learn more about the Age of Empire. You can read about varying colonial empires (not only the British, French or German, but also the Belgian, Danish or Dutch). And you can find out how imperialist world views and popular colonial culture played out even in countries which did not possess any formal overseas colonies at all, like Austria-Hungary or Switzerland…

To keep you from feeling too complacent, though, the Storybook may sometimes also draw your attention to the fact that, although the Age of Empire is officially over, imperialist policies, quasi-colonial dependencies and exploitative lifestyles are far from gone.

Featured Blog Posts about Empire & Colonialism

#Us too: How small European nations are discovering their colonial past: Nr. 1 Denmark

#Us too: How small European nations are discovering their colonial past: Nr. 2 Switzerland

Featured Blog Posts about Adventure

Un-schooled kids

The first modern Greek “adventure hero” was a boy refugee: Dimitrios Vikelas’s Loukis Laras

Further Information

The most extensive and well-informed collection of (German) children’s (adventure) literature that I know: http://www.ablit.de/index.htm

A small online exhibition about Victorian Children’s Books: http://www.kodomo.go.jp/ingram/e/index.html

List of Authors

The most important authors of nineteenthn-century and Age-of-Empire adventure fiction are:

In England:

  • Daniel Defoe (adaptations)
  • Captain Marryat
  • R.M. Ballantyne
  • Robert Louis Stevenson
  • H. Rider Haggard
  • G.A. Henty
  • Joseph Conrad
  • Erskine Childers

In America:

In France:

In Germany:

In Italy:

  • Emilio Salgari

In the Netherlands:

In Denmark:

  • Niels Juel-Hansen
  • Niels K. Kristensen
  • Walter Christmas