“Better Friends”: Marshall Saunders Writing Humane Education and Envisioning Animal Rights

  • Roxanne Harde
Keywords: Beautiful Joe, a Dog’s Own Story, Margaret Marshall Saunders


This essay examines several of the animal narratives that Margaret Marshall Saunders (1861–1947) wrote for children. From her first book, Beautiful Joe, a Dog’s Own Story, the first Canadian book to sell more than a million copies, to the end of her long career, Saunders developed a trenchant set of pedagogies and rhetorical strategies in support of humane education. Even as she negotiated her own culturally endorsed tendencies to see the animal as a thing, Saunders offered carefully reasoned arguments for the ethical treatment of animals through appealing pedagogies of humane education, renovations of her society’s views of non-human animals as objects for human consumption and pleasure, and rhetorical emphases on cultural understandings of connections between the child and the animal.


DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2010.0010

Author Biography

Roxanne Harde

An Associate Professor of English at the University of Alberta—Augustana, Roxanne Harde researches American women’s writing using approaches from feminist cultural studies. Her current project examines nineteenth-century reform writing for children. Her work has appeared in several journals, including Christianity and Literature, Legacy, Studies in Puritan American Spirituality, Critique, Feminist Theology, and Mosaic, and in several edited collections.

How to Cite
Harde, R. (1). “Better Friends”: Marshall Saunders Writing Humane Education and Envisioning Animal Rights. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 1(2). Retrieved from https://jeunessejournal.ca/index.php/yptc/article/view/37