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In Fairyland

One of the most beautifully decorated is In Fairyland by Richard Doyle. Although a slim volume, it is a large book, printed only on one side of each leaf. The text - a poem by William Allingham - is portrait, but you must turn the book sideways to see the pictures. Some are full pages; other leaves have two, three, or four images.

Most of the images are very colourful (although a small number are almost monochrome, to represent night-time) and all are intricately detailed. The Elves have very child-like faces, and often act like naughty children. However, the book is far more likely to appeal to adults than to today's children. Even when it was published, in 1870, this may have been the case – the name Emmie D Waterhouse is inscribed on the front free endpaper, but not in childish handwriting. Miss Pollard's name appears below this, dated 1958 – a nice personal touch not present in all her books.

Shelfmark: OLS POL X 8373

Helen McGinley

Helen McGinley has worked in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections since 2004. She has a love of books in general, and children's and illustrated books in particular, and enjoys sharing her excitement through the department's blog and Twitter feed.