Arthur Rackham, the fourth of twelve children, was born in Lewisham on 19th September 1867. His father wanted him to have a career in business and he began as an insurance clerk, but attended Lambeth School of Art in the evenings, having won prizes for drawing at school. In 1892, after having illustrations published in the The Pall Mall Budget over the course of the previous year, he took a job there, moving to the new Westminster Budget the following year. After just a few years he was able to become a self-supporting book illustrator, also contributing to The Westminster Gazette and magazines such as Little Folks and Cassell’s Magazine, a career which continued until his death from cancer on 6th September 1939.
As the Early Printed Books reading room opens at 10am daily, and department staff are here earlier than that, the hour between 9 and 10 can be used for class teaching, and we welcome this opportunity to share our collections with a wide range of undergraduates and postgraduates. A member of EPB staff will give an introduction to the reading room and our reference collection if required, then the group tutor is free to teach using original materials which students might not otherwise see.
If you are a lecturer and would like to use these resources, please contact the department on ext.1172 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a suitable date.
By Dr Jane Carroll
Once upon a time, someone nearly bought a stuffed tiger for the Early Printed Books Reading Room [when we were preparing a Long Room exhibition about India – Ed.]. Sadly, the tiger was never bought but, nevertheless, EPB is full of animals if you know where to look for them.
Last week, I brought a group of sophister students from the School of English to EPB to look at animal books, mainly from the Pollard Collection.
Winnie-the-Pooh, the storybook by A. A. Milne about the eponymous, much-loved teddy bear and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, first appeared in hardback on 14th October 1926. The bear himself, although at that stage unnamed, had made his debut in the 13th February 1924 issue of Punch, in a poem which was included later that year in the collection When we were very Young.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in 1865 by the mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898) under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The story of the title character’s fall down a rabbit hole, the strange creatures she meets and the odd circumstances in which she finds herself have made this fantasy one of the most popular children’s books ever written.
The first print run, of 2,000 copies, was suppressed because John Tenniel, the illustrator, objected to the ‘disgraceful’ print quality and fewer than 25 of these withdrawn copies survive. A new edition was released in time for the Christmas market the same year, but carrying an 1866 date. Trinity’s copy is at shelfmark Press K.3.7.
This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of Frederick Warne & Co., the well-known publisher of children’s books. Here in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections we hold several hundred of Warne’s publications with over a third of them belonging to the Pollard Collection, a collection of more than 10,000 children’s books.
The firm was established in late June 1865 at Bedford Street, Covent Garden by Frederick Warne (1825-1901). At a young age Warne had joined his elder brother in the bookselling business of their brother-in-law, George Routledge, and in 1851 became a partner in his publishing firm. Warne later set up his own company with partners Edward J. Dodd and A.W. Duret and the firm expanded to New York in the 1880s. The publishing house issued a number of popular series of reprints in both fiction and non-fiction. They also published editions of works by celebrated children’s authors and artists and utilised the skills of the leading London colour printer Edmund Evans.We have marked the anniversary with a small display of Warne’s publications which will be on view until mid-September 2015 in the exhibition case in the foyer of the Berkeley Library. Included are children’s books illustrated by Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott and by the author most associated with the firm, Beatrix Potter. Next year, in fact, will mark another significant anniversary, 150 years since the birth of Potter on 28 July 1866.
Potter first wrote the story of Peter Rabbit in 1893 in a picture letter to the child of a former governess. Following rejection by six publishers (including Warne), The tale of Peter Rabbit was issued privately by the author in December 1901. The following year Warne reconsidered and published the first commercial edition. Thus began a collaboration between author and publisher which saw the publication of twenty-three small format Peter Rabbit books.
Dating Warne’s children’s publications can often prove problematic. Toy book publishers at that time often collected together and reissued a group of works previously published separately, usually in time for Christmas and seldom dated. The copy of Caldecott’s picture book included in the display is a typical example. Library accession dates or provenance information can sometimes help to suggest a possible date. In the case of our copy from the Pollard Collection (at OLS POL 684) the clue comes from an inscription on the endpapers from a mother to her child, Rupert S. Thompson, from Surrey, dated Christmas 1899.
Taking note of the changes over time in a publisher’s imprint can also narrow down a likely date and Chester W. Topp’s bibliography, Victorian yellowbacks & paperbacks, 1849-1905 (Denver, 1993-2006) is a useful resource. Warne was a prominent issuer of yellowbacks, paperbacks and cheap cloth issues of children’s literature and volume 4 of Topp’s work is indispensable in building a picture of his output in this area.
Frederick Warne retired in 1895 leaving the firm in the hands of his three sons, Harold, Fruing and Norman. Norman, the youngest, became Potter’s editor but died suddenly from leukaemia in 1905 only four weeks after he and Beatrix had become engaged to be married. Potter continued publishing her ‘little books’ with the firm and, having no children of her own, bequeathed the rights to her published works to Norman Warne’s nephew, Frederick Warne Stephens, after her death. In the 20th century the firm introduced its famous Observer’s books series of handy pocket reference guides (we hold several hundred of them here in the Library). The company was acquired by Penguin Books in 1983 and later this year the publisher is issuing a celebratory volume, Classic nursery tales: 150 years of Frederick Warne.
Rabbits are often associated with the months of March and April, due to role the ‘Easter Bunny’ plays in delivering chocolate to children at Easter. However, the animal which most resembles the rabbit – the hare – also comes to mind in March, thanks to the English expression “as mad as a March hare”. This phrase was popularised in the late 19th century by Lewis Carroll’s inclusion of the character, the March Hare, in Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, but it was in existence long before that, having been used by poets such as John Skelton in the sixteenth century.
The origin of the idiom is straightforward: the hare’s breeding season is around the month of March, when its behaviour becomes unusually excited and energetic, causing the hare to jump into the air and dart around for no apparent reason. Lewis Carroll’s protagonist comments, before her first meeting with the March Hare, “perhaps as this is May it won’t be raving mad – at least not so mad as it was in March.” (Chap. 6)
Now on display in the foyer of the Berkeley Library are three very different images of hares, from the 17th and 20th centuries.These include Matthaeus Merian’s engraving for John Jonston’s “Historia animalis de quadrupedibus”, showing a common hare as well as a species of a hare with horns which by the end of the 18th century had been proved not in fact to exist.
Jonston’s work was published thirty years after another important book about animals, by Conrad Gesner, whose illustration of a hare is also shown here.
The other pictures of hares which can be viewed in the case at the entrance to the Berkeley Library are one of Agnes Miller Parker’s illustrations for H.E. Bates book “Through the woods” (London, 1936) and Rene Cloke’s colourful depiction of the Mad Hatter’s tea party in the picture-book version of “Alice in Wonderland” published by Dean in 1969.
We are delighted to welcome children from three Dublin primary schools to the Library for a series of workshops on 13th January 2015. These workshops are the starting point of the annual Bookmarks Programme organised by staff from TAP (Trinity Access Programmes) in Trinity College. In one of these workshops the children — from Our Lady of Lourdes National School, Inchicore; Our Lady of Good Counsel Boys’ National School, Drimnagh; and St. Mary’s Boys’ National School, Haddington Road — will be shown books from the Pollard Collection, a collection of more than 10,000 children’s books bequeathed to the Library by Mary Pollard, former Keeper of Early Printed Books.
Miss Pollard’s collection of schoolbooks had been purchased by the Library thirty years earlier. Three needlework textbooks from that collection are currently on display in the exhibition case at the entrance to the Berkeley Library. The book on agriculture which accompanies them is one of many schoolbooks which have been acquired to supplement the Pollard Schoolbook Collection.
The books shown here were all issued by the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, the publisher of the bulk of the textbooks used in Irish schools during the mid- to late 19th century. They are notable for their careful attention to detail and balanced approach, especially in potentially controversial subjects such as religious education.
A new exhibition has opened in the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin: “Upon the wild waves: a journey through myth in children’s books” explores some of the varying ways in which writers and illustrators have used myth down through the centuries to engage and excite younger readers. From Thomas Godwin’s “Romanae historiae anthologia” (1648) to “Hagwitch” (2013) by the contemporary Irish writer and illustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, the exhibition serves as a celebration of the wealth of children’s literature held in the Library.
Myths from around the world are represented in this display, although there is a particular emphasis on English-language books and on tales from Irish authors. The exhibition includes sections on Biblical, Classical, Norse, Arthurian and Irish myths. It is clear from all the works displayed that myths have always had an important role to play in providing guidance to children on how to deal with the great problems of life, as well as offering ways of understanding the past, present and future, and of explaining the inexplicable.
The exhibition was prepared by Dr Pádraic Whyte, co-director of the Masters programme in Children’s Literature at the School of English, TCD. It will be on view in the Long Room until April 2015.
An online version of the exhibition is available here.