‘Everything's Fine' (a young-adult novel) and 'Worlds Made of Words: how Children's Literature promotes psychical growth and wellbeing'

Rowell, Rosemary. 2023. ‘Everything's Fine' (a young-adult novel) and 'Worlds Made of Words: how Children's Literature promotes psychical growth and wellbeing'. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis consists of a novel, ‘Everything’s Fine’, and a critical thesis. The novel, written for a young adult readership, tells the story of three teenagers: Coco, Angus and Angus’ older brother Ian, and is about the confusion associated with navigating adolescent attraction, love and friendship, and the distress of watching someone you love in the grips of a mental health breakdown.

The critical thesis explores the ways in which literature written for children can support their psychical growth and well-being. The introduction offers an overview of the pedagogical nature of children’s literature, and the overlap of interest in the growing child’s inner workings shared by psychoanalysts, teachers and writers of children’s literature. I employ psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott’s theories on early child development as a basis for exploring the conditions that enable healthy psychical development and the role of the imagination and creativity in mental well-being from early childhood and throughout life. In the first chapter I use my reading of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as a basis for examining the power of a healthy imagination in promoting psychical growth and well-being. The second chapter focuses on the novel Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr as an example of the ways in which symbolic writing for children works, at the unconscious level, to address the more challenging aspects of growing up. The third chapter investigates Joanne Greenberg’s I Never Promised You A Rose Garden and Neal Shusterman’s Challenger Deep — each a portrayal of a young person suffering severe psychical breakdown. I consider the techniques each writer employs in creating these anarchic internal worlds and their effectiveness. The conclusion considers the responsibilities and opportunities attached to writing literature for children. I reflect on how my research challenged and influenced my writing of Everything’s Fine, both technically and creatively.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



children's literature, adolescent realist novel, young adult literature, imagination, creativity, experiential learning, Donald Winnicott, bipolar disorder, mania, psychosis, child development theory, Transitional Object, Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Catherine Starr, Marianne Dreams, Joanne Greenberg, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Neal Shusterman, Challenger Deep

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


30 April 2023

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Jun 2023 10:55

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2023 09:56



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