The Age of Nature: Tracing the influence of Émile on the representation of boyhood in The Brummell Children and the opening chapters of Tom Brown’s Schooldays, Mark Grogan
No summary can do justice to the diversity of formative experience available in the late eighteenth to mid nineteenth century to the children of the ruling élite. In this article, I hope to explore the influence of Émile, or On Education by Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the representation of three pre-adolescent boys from two distinct eras. Joshua Reynolds’s portrait of The Brummell Children, commissioned in 1781, depicts the two sons of the senior civil servant William Brummell. The comparative text is the semi-autobiographical recreation of the boyhood of Thomas Hughes in his novel Tom Brown’s Schooldays, first published in 1857.