In this comprehensive analysis of a woman hailed by her fellow Britons as a "National Monument," Nancy Huse argues that Streatfeild's work challenges the status of "girls' books," described in most criticism as ephemeral or constituting a category separate from "great books." Huse attributes the appeal of Streatfeild's books to their contemporary themes and traditional values and finds that in exploring the tensions of heredity and environment Streatfeild anticipated many contemporary questions about the role of women, the structure of the family, and the implications of the class system. In particular, Huse notes, Streatfeild (in both her children's and adult novels) used the poverty of women and their work in the domestic sphere to link the public with the private worlds shaping children. Streatfeild's conservative upbringing, rebellious youth, and complex life-long relationship with her family provided material for her novels, according to Huse. Streatfeild developed a conscious perspective on childhood that she used to defend child/adult boundaries while sharpening story forms. At the same time, Huse contends, her multifaceted talent admitted new subjects, character types, themes, and information into the children's book because she assumed competence and intelligent curiosity as the basis of children's contributions to the family and to society. In this vibrant portrait of the life and work of such an innovative children's writer, Huse suggests some meaningful ways to evaluate the family novel, the role of a children's novelist in preserving and constructing a historical record, and the implications of formulaic patterns that derive from female experience.