Ladybird stories: a collection of interlinking short stories

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Prior, Niamh
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University College Cork
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This thesis comprises two parts. The first part is a collection of interlinking short stories with intertextual elements, in the form of quotations from non-fiction Vintage Ladybird Books. Each story takes its title from these children’s books. Read together the stories form a narrative arc with recurring characters. ‘Ladybird Stories’ blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction; past and present; childhood and adulthood; and indeed between novel and short story. The books used as catalysts for the stories are educational ones on subjects such as science, nature and hobbies with titles including ‘Life of the Honeybee’, ‘Lenses, Mirrors and Lightbulbs’ and ‘Stamp Collecting’. By being absorbed into fictional stories, the factual sentences develop new levels of meaning for the reader. Intertextuality therefore changes the effect of words and ultimately the feeling the reader experiences. The second part of this thesis is an accompanying essay divided into three chapters. The first covers the history of Ladybird books and their social impact. Ladybird books have formed an intrinsic part of childhood reading for countless adults whose formative years were from the 1940s up to the 1990’s. The second chapter looks at literary theory and the elements that define the creative part of this thesis, namely intertextuality and postmodernism. It also discusses interlinking story collections and polyphonic novels, examining writers’ methods and their effects. The third chapter takes an in-depth look at the process of writing the collection. I discuss the varying methodologies involved in creating each individual story. It identifies how research can inform and strengthen the creative practice of writing, and also the implications of using such culturally and historically iconic books as the stimulus for fiction.
Ladybird Books , Creative writing , Short stories
Prior, N. 2019. Ladybird stories: a collection of interlinking short stories. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.