In Lucretia's [Lucretia Jones, Edith Wharton's mother] view, books could be dangerous. Not only were they full of bad people, they were full of bad English. Especially children's books. Louisa May Alcott was so sloppy with her grammar in Little Women that Lucretia was appalled. A few children's books—such as George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin and Charles Kinglsey's The Water-Babies—met Lucretia's standard. But adult books were grammatically more correct and therefore safer. So from that time on, Edith [aged 7 or so] was permitted to read only adult classics approved by her mother.
from The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton, by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge (Clarion Books, 2010)
Helicopter parenting, 1860s upper-crust-NYC style! Some things never change; I was reminded of the picture-book brouhaha from earlier this fall. Of course, now I'm itching to go back to Little Women and try to figure out what riled up Lucretia Jones. To judge from what Connie Wooldridge writes, though, it wouldn't take much.
Edith Wharton survived her upbringing and went on to write such fine novels as The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence and many other books and short stories.
The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton is a nominee for a Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Award (a Cybil) in young adult/middle grade nonfiction.