Date of release: Monday, June 13, 2016

Horrible HistoriesThe question of whether children really had horrible lives in the past is the theme of a conference this week, co-directed by a University of Greenwich academic.

Horrible Histories: Children's Lives in Historical Contexts, runs from Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 June at King's College London.

The conference theme addresses whether children's lives in the past can really be described as "horrible". Many aspects of children's lives will be covered, from slavery to abuse, family relationships, youth movements, play, corporal punishment and bullying. Children from two secondary schools will talk about their historical research at the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.

There will be panels on children's literature and on researching the history of children in museums and archives. The keynote lecture by Dr David Pomfret (University of Hong Kong), is entitled Colonial childhoods and the making and undoing of Empires.

The event also sees the launch of a new Children's History Society. The co-founding directors are Dr Mary Clare Martin, social historian and head of the University of Greenwich's Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation, and Dr Simon Sleight, acting director of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at King's College London.

Simon is the author of Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870-1914 (Ashgate, 2013). The society will be supported by eminent academics, including the Honorary President, Colin Heywood (Emeritus Professor, University of Nottingham).

Mary Clare Martin says: "There has been a huge amount of interest in the society, especially from postgraduates and early career academics. We are very excited about the ways this new society will take forward the study of children in history, and we anticipate it will be a wonderful way to engage schoolchildren with learning about history."

The history of children is a rapidly expanding field, and is now available to Greenwich first year Childhood and Youth Studies students. To find out more about BA (Hons) Childhood and Youth Studies:

To register for the free book launch (open until 16 June), of Children, Childhood and the British World (Palgrave, 2016), edited by Shirleene Robinson and Simon Sleight:

To join the debate on Twitter and Facebook, see and

Mary Clare's latest publication, co-edited with New Zealand scholar Hugh Morrison, University of Otago, is entitled Creating Religious Childhoods in Anglo-World and British Colonial Contexts, 1800-1950, will be out with Routledge this year.

Story by Public Relations