"Feral children, also known as wild children or wolf children, are children who've grown up with minimal human contact, or even none at all. They may have been raised by animals (often wolves) or somehow survived on their own. In some cases, children are confined and denied normal social interaction with other people." ~ Feral Children Site
Occasionally throughout our history, civilized society has come across a "wild child" who has grown up in isolation with virtually no human contact. Many researchers believe that we're born with the principles of language, but if a first language isn't acquired by puberty it may be too late -- we just don't have the neurological development. It also appears that there's a particular period in the life of humans when they're ripe for learning languages. Studies of feral children who have had little contact with humans during the critical ages of one through four years show that they've had tremendous difficulty mastering language and reintegrating with humans.
Languages are complex and dynamic -- constantly evolving according to the needs of societies. To some degree humans appear to have the innate ability to form languages and many feral children learn to mimic animal sounds: barking, growling, whining, howling, bird sounds, etc., But research suggests that it takes the interaction with other humans to develop a form of communication with any degree of complexity. We are the result of complex interactions between the environment and our genes.
Many of the "wild children" raised in isolation are found to be quite uncivilized and barely able to walk or talk. They are unable to empathize with of the needs and desires of other humans -- they don't even identify themselves as human. The concepts of morals, property and possessions are alien to them. Many of them prove to be surly, uncooperative and self-centred individuals -- a far cry from the Noble Savage notion put forth by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
A study of feral children suggests that our upbringing is entirely responsible for endowing us with language, the ability to think and other traits. What happens in early childhood thus has a profound impact on the neurological development of the brain:
"Studies of childhood abuse and neglect have important lessons for considerations of nature and nurture. While each child has unique genetic potentials, both human and animal studies point to important needs that every child has, and severe long-term consequences for brain function if those needs are not met. The effects of the childhood environment, favorable or unfavorable, interact with all the processes of neurodevelopment."
~ Dr Bruce D Perry, Childhood Experience and the Expression of Genetic Potential
"The importance of early intervention and attention to the chronicity of environmental adversity may indicate the need for permanent alternative caregivers, in order to preserve the development of the most vulnerable children. . . . Child abuse and neglect are (wo)man-made phenomena which adversely affect a child's development and sometimes survival, and which should, at least in theory, be preventable."
~ Danya Glaser, Child Abuse and Neglect and the Brain
Obviously research studies in this field are of major importance to educators to whom a knowledge of language, moral, and overall neurological development of students of all ages is of vital concern when designing educational programs and instructional techniques. The Internet is an ideal forum for the collation of related articles and research on this subject. Until now there has never been an attempt made to scan the rare early writings on the subject of feral children, so as to present them to researchers at one location for open access study.
The most famous feral child in fiction is probably Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan. The character was introduced in Burroughs' 1912 novel, Tarzan of the Apes, and soon became a cultural icon. John "Tarzan" Clayton, the young orphan of Lord and Lady Greystoke, was raised by an advanced "missing link" tribe of anthropoids in the African jungles. He learned their rudimentary language as a young child and later taught himself to read from his dead parents' collection of primers and other children picture books -- an interesting case study. Using this fictional character as a rallying point I have worked with Dr. Georges Dodds of McGill University to present and document almost 100 feral-related works that inspired this literary phenomenon. I believe that the discovery and perusal of these many thousands of pages and illustrations will serve as an impetus for further research in the field.
William G. Hillman
Faculty of Education
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
|1800: 1701-1800 Contents Chrono||1801: 1801-1900 Contents by Theme||1802 Dodds' Advent Project Intro||1803 Apeman Kith & Kin|
|1804 ERB: Tarzan of the Apes||1805 AJ Ogilvy: Ape-Man||1806 Roland: Almost a Man||1807 Ducray-Duminil: 2 Children|
|1808 Anonymous: Autonous History||1809 Leroux: Balaoo | 2 | 3 |||1810 Sargent: Beyond Banyans||1811 Purchas: Battell in Angola|
|1812 Berthet: Wild Man | 2 | 3 | 4 |||1813 Buel: Dark Continent | 1a | 2 |||1814 Rickett: Caliban Quickening||1815 Lounsberry: Golden Crater|
|1816 Gracian: The Critick||1817 Court: Kingdom of Apes||1818 Gomez: Historia de Dulcarnain||1819 Roland: Missing Link|
|1820 Hyne: New Eden||1821 Eldridge: Monkey Man||1822 Beaulieu: French Cabin Boy||1823 Anon: Monkey-Land Mems|
|1824 Ballantine: Gorilla Hunters | 2 |||1825 Anon: Gorilla Origin of Man||1826 Gozlan: Monkey Island||1827 Granucci: Bella Favola|
|1828 Haggard: Allan's Wife||1829 d'Hampol: Missing Link||1830 Hauff: Young Englishman||1831 Dodillon: Hemo|
|1832 Longueville: The Hermit||1833 Constable: Intellect Curse||1834 Favenc: Jinkarras Haunt||1835 Gabriel: Jocko Brazil Monkey|
|1836 Graydon: Jungle Boy||1837 Kipling: Jungle Book | a |||1838 Kipling: Second Jungle Book||1839 Kirkby: AutoMathes History|
|1840 Stacpoole: Blue Lagoon | 2 |||1841 Davidson: Lavender Mission||1842 LeRoy: Levrai Adventure||1843 Anon: Chevalier Dreams|
|1844 Sheridan: Young Marooner | 2 |||1845 Marryat: Little Savage||1846 Standish: Gorilla Land Link||1847 JF Cooper: Monikins | 2 ||
|1848 Moustache: Old Man & Ape||1849 Fogerty: Mr. Jocko | 2 | 3 |||1850 Nye: Monkey Language Exp.||
|1851 Mallock: Positivism On Island||1852 Griffiths: Peters||1853 Pougens/Dodds: Jocko||1854 Robertson: Primordial Laws|
|1855 Plutarch: Romulus||1856 Anon: Surprising Adventures||1857 Mighels: Crystal Scepter||1858: Alden: Darwinian Schooner|
|1859: Brookfield: Simiocracy||1860 Robinson: Soko Hunting||1861 Smile: Soong Sumatra||1862 Muddock: Sunless City | 2 ||
|1863 Cole: Humans with Tails||1864 Lermina: Goldslayer | 2 | 3 |||1865 Morgan: Missing Link | 2 |||1866 Seriman: Incognite Australi|
|1867 Graydon: Africa White King | 2 |||1868 Tufail: Hayy Ibn Yaqzân||1869 Lugones/Dodds: Yzur||1870 Curwen: Zit & Xoe|
|1871 Lemon: Gorilla||1872 Period Reviews||1873 Postl: Mexico Nights||1874 Rice: Katie's Forest Friends|
|1875 Frankenstein: Boy & Elephant||1876 Dark Continent Art Gallery 1||1877 Dark Continent Art Gallery 2||1878 Dark Continent Art Gallery 3|
|1879 Dark Continent Art Gallery 4||1880 Dark Continent Art Gallery 5||1881 Dark Continent Art Gallery 6||1882 Dark Continent Art Gallery 7|
|1883 Dark Continent Art Gallery 8||1884 Anon: Crusoe Graves||1885 Fitzpatrick: Jock/Bushwald||1886 Sleeman: Wolves/Children|
|1887 Haggard: Nada the Lily | 2 | 3 | 4||1888 Brady: Regeneration Island | 2 | 3 |||1890 Speyer: Bobbi the Chimp||1891 Robida: Monkey King|
|1892 Hofland: Young Crusoe||1893 Wildman Baboo's Good Tiger||1894 Stephens: Indian Devil||1895 Stockwell: Wolf-Children|
|1896 Remington: Ermine | 2 |||1897 Belisle Am Family Robinson||1898 Garner: Apes & Monkeys | 2 | 3 |||1899 Candland: Fact, Fiction, Legend|
|Recent Additions:||2102: Dodds: Joe the Jungle Boy||2103: Dodds: Valentine & Olson||2104: Graydon: Jungle Trappers |a| |b||
|2105 DuBois: Feral Child/Fact & Fiction||2106 Feral Children News 2007||2107 Sieveking: Wild Things|
|2108 Noble: Correct Taste||2122 Robinson: Noah's Ark||2123 Merry's Museum: Wild People|
|2155 Stredder: Alive in the Jungle||2156 Cornish: Wild Boy of Pindus||2157 Dodds: Feral Humans in Newspapers|
|2838 Dodds: Val and I | a | b | c | d | e||2839 Dodds: Semant Illustrations||.|
Selected 19thCentury Simian Fiction (1830-1914)
Simian Fiction Contents
|1900: 1801-1900 Contents Chrono||1901:||1902 Simian Fiction Contents||1903: Authors A1 | A2 | A3 | A4|
|1904: AuthorsB1||1905: C1||1906: D1||1907: E1|
|1908: F1||1909: G1||1910: H1||1911: I1|
|1912: J1||1913: K1||1914: L1||1915: M1|
|1916: N1||1917: OPQ1||1918: R1||1919: S1|
|1920: T1||1921: UV1||1922: W1||1923: XYZ1|
Sample Art From
Heroes of the Dark Continent by J. W. Buel
Found at ERBzine 1813 and ERBzine 1813a
William G. Hillman ~ Assistant
Professor ~ Faculty of Education ~ Brandon University
Faculty of Education
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
Department of Bioresources Engineering
Macdonald Campus of McGill University
Sainte Anne-de-Bellevue, QC, Canada
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