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For those who missed all or parts of it earlier in the year, there's another chance to hear The Invention of Childhood over the Christmas holidays. In six hour-long episodes, at 9pm from Sunday 24 Dec to Friday 29 Dec, Michael Morpurgo draws together, epoque by epoque, the stories of the lives of British children over the last thousand years.


The Open University
Open2.net has produced a stimulating site to accompany the series. Find out more by using the links below.

Listen to each programme for seven days after broadcast, Sunday 24 Dec to Friday 29 Dec 2006.

View gallery of historic childhood pictures

Michael Morpurgo
About Michael Morpurgo
Find out more about the presenter Michael Morpurgo, the former Children's Laureate.
Christmas episodes - 24 Dec to 29 Dec 2006: Listen online to all the broadcasts for 7 days.
Episode 1: from the 11th to the early 16th century
Michael Morpurgo draws together the stories of medieval British childhood, exploring how the arrival of Christianity and the Norman Conquest, the Black Death and the introduction of printing affected children from the 11th to the early 16th centuries. Read by Timothy West, Sara Kestelman, Anna Maxwell Martin and Adam Godley.
Episode 2: 16th and 17th centuries
In the second compilation drawn from his major series on the history of British childhood, Michael Morpurgo looks at how children fared in the wake of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. What impact did it have on a child's self-esteem to grow up believing that he was " a wicked man , as he that is ignorant and not exercised in godliness"? Michael Morpurgo finds out about the growing educational opportunities for boys and the diminishing chances for girls in the seventeenth century, and about the impact of the Poor Law on the most disadvantaged children of all.
Episode 3: The 18th century
Pulling together the stories of childhood in the eighteenth century, Michael Morpurgo tells of the first Foundling Hospital, the impact of two great parenting gurus - John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, - and their battle over the nature and purpose of childhood, and he looks into the growth of a phenomenon which was entirely new to eighteenth century parents but all too familiar to those in the twentieth first century - pester power.
Episode 4: the 19th Century
Moving into the nineteenth century, Michael Morpurgo recalls the profound impact of the new Public Schools on children from better off backgrounds, while other children worked in mills, down mines or up chimneys, and the least well-off were living on the streets. All this before the introduction of compulsory schooling in 1870.
Episode 5: Into the 20th century
As his story of British childhood moves into the first half of the twentieth century, Michael Morpurgo explores the impact of the Empire on children - the ones in Britain, the ones sent away to start new lives in Canada and Australia, and the ones who came from elsewhere to settle here and make new lives for themselves and their families. Michael also traces the surprising story of how three dreadful wars ultimately benefited British children, leading to the establishment of our Welfare State.
Episode 6: Up to date
Bringing his long story up to the present with the last compilation of Radio Four's major series The Invention of Childhood, Michael Morpurgo traces how the immense economic and cultural changes of the last fifty years have affected the lives of British children. Do such changes herald the imminent disappearance of childhood, or will it go on reinventing itself indefinitely?
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  Childhood innocence   in art
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