By Peter Hollindale

About Peter Hollindale

Peter Hollindale is Former Reader in English and Educational Studies at the University of York. His publications include Ideology and the Children’s Book (1988), Signs of Childness in Children’s Books (1997), and editions of both the prose and dramatic texts of Peter Pan.


The word nature derives from Latin natura, which in turn is rooted in the verb nasci, “to be born.” It denotes the primal and original condition of all things, including human beings. In essence, nature can be seen as the default condition of planet earth if freed of human impact and of humans (essentially children) before socializing and “civilizing” influences are brought to bear on them.

Nature is a complex word with many meanings; the OED sets out three intertwined, indispensable definitions. First, nature is defined as “the creative and regulative physical power which is conceived of as operating in the material world and as the immediate cause of all its phenomena.” This is nature as perceived by the Romantics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in modern times may be variously titled God, Mother Nature, Gaia, or evolution. Second, nature is “the material world, or its …

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