This collection of twelve fairy tales were particular favourites of Edward Ardizzone, who wanted to bring them together to share them with children, hoping that they would enjoy them also. The tales are taken from the collection of Joseph Jacobs, a folklorist who wanted children to read and enjoy English Fairy and Folk Tales as well as French and German tales by, for example, Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. Joseph Jacobs' collection of tales included folk tales, fables, legends etc. as well as fairy tales. I would find it difficult to choose my favourite twelve out of such a vast collection.
The mere mention of The Arabian Nights might conjure up images of genies magically appearing from brass lamps or magic carpets soaring across sunset skies.In true Arabian style, brilliant coloured silks and the scent of Eastern spices provide the backdrop to this superb collection of magical tales, which include both exotic romances and perilous adventures! Our heroes include names such as Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba, known to many the world over.
But is this volume merely a collection of children's stories or does the book have an appeal to adults?
Left: Illustration from the version illustrated by George Soper.
Originally the book was entitled One Thousand Nights and a Night. The volume was a vast collection of about two hundred stories which included poetry, fairy tales, political satires, erotica, and bawdy anecdotes.
In fact the book, published in 1801, is a result of three tours by the author William Coxe. On the first, in 1798, he was accompanied bySir Richard Colt Hoare who provided some of the illustrations for the book and there were then two further tours on his own, in the spring and autumn of 1799.
William Coxe (1747 – 1828) was educated at Eton and ultimately became a vicar in Wiltshire. He wrote a number of biographiesincluding those of Sir Robert Walpole and the Duke of Marlborough, as well as travel books, covering amongst others, Switzerland,Russia and Poland. However, for those of us based in Wales, his most sought after and collectable book remains “An Historical Tour Through Monmouthshire”
Some books just look so appealing due to their bright bindings or covers and the Andrew Lang Fairy Books are no exception. There are 12 in the collection - all the colours of the rainbow and more! A set of first editions would look stunning with their decorative covers.
Andrew Lang was a Scottish poet and literary critic who is now probably best remembered for his collections of fairy and folk tales. English collections of traditional Fairy Tales were rare in the lateVictorian Age as many considered them too brutal and violent to be read to children. Lang had read the classic fairy tales during his childhood and thought they should be passed onto the next generation.
Lothar Meggendorfer was born in Germany in 1847. After completing his technical art studies he became a popular magazine illustrator. He spent many years on the staff of the German satirical magazine 'Fliegende Blatter' and also worked for Munchener Bilderbogen.
Meggendorfer's popularity today is based solely on his ingenious mechanical picture books for children which he began creating in the late 1880s. Many of his German titles were published in multiple editions. Many were also translated into English, French, Spanish, Italian, Bohemian, Hungarian, and Russian. He is considered the creator and chief innovator of moveable toy books - and deservedly so. His books are much sought after and demand a high price on the rare occasion when they turn up on the market in good working order.
“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” - Cecil Beaton
Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton CBE, was a British fashion and portrait photographer, diarist, interior designer and an Academy Award-winning stage and costume designer for films and the theatre. Admitted to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1970, (founded by ‘fashionista’ Eleanor Lambert in 1940 as an attempt to boost the reputation of American fashion at the time), Beaton’s flamboyant personality and flair for style resulted in his being credited for more or less inventing the ‘Edwardian look’ with ‘My Fair Lady’ for which he designed both the sets and costumes. As David Bailey remarks:
Who has not heard of Rupert Bear? Resplendent in red jersey and bright yellow check trousers, Rupert is as popular today as he ever was, both with youngsters discovering his adventures for the first time, as well as those of us who remember him fondly from our childhoods. Most of us are familiar with the Rupert annuals, the first of which was published in 1936, but Rupert was in fact created long before then. He made his first appearance in the Daily Express in 1920 making him 90 years old this year! (2010)
Rupert's creator was Mary Tourtel, born in 1874 into a very artistic family and married in her early 20's to Herbert Tourtel who worked in printing and publishing.
The idea of a 'Curse of the Pharaohs' emerged following the death of George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the fifth Earl of Carnarvon after excavation of perhaps the most famous of all ancient Egyptian treasures - the tomb of King Tutankhamun.
The general public were amazed at the unbelievable wealth reflected in the amount of solid gold funerary pieces that were entombed with the minor Pharaoh. This treasure had been buried, along with its owner Tutankhamun, for over 3000 years. His resting place had remained undisturbed until its discovery in November 1922 when Howard Carter and Carnarvon, his sponsor, excavated a step cut into the rock in the Valley of The Kings beneath some workmen's huts at the base of the tomb of Rameses VI. What they discovered was to be the monumental culmination of a number of years (and considerable investment on Carnarvon's part) searching for a tomb they weren't even at all sure existed! Is it surprising that the general public perhaps felt that it was wrong to disturb King Tut? Perhaps people felt that the excavation was a disrespectful act of violation and that the idea of the Curse of King Tut was a justified form of revenge on any invaders of his tomb.
I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book to raise the Ghost of an Idea which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their house pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D. December, 1843
A Christmas Carol , describing the redemption of the wretchedly miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, is the best known of Charles Dickens' works and has become a Christmas tradition loved by children and adults alike.
Left: Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley. Illustration by Arthur Rackham.
It is composed in five staves, of which the central three describe Scrooge's visitation by three Spirits - the Spirit of Christmas Past, the Spirit of Christmas Present, and the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come. The remaining staves act as prologue and epilogue.
Who has not heard of A Child's Garden of Verses? Probably very few...
But how many would associate this delightful collection of poetry with the exciting and romantic adventure story Treasure Island, or the much darker and most famous study of the abysmal depths of personality The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde? All came from the pen and fertile imagination of the Scottish writer and poet Robert Louis Stevenson.
Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850 into a family more famous for engineering than for literary prowess - his father, Thomas, invented the marine dynamometer, which measures the force of waves, and his grandfather, also a Robert, was Britain's greatest builder of lighthouses.
Rose's Books recently acquired a collection of books by Elsie J. Oxenhamwhich includes several of the hard to find titles. I find it exciting looking through a new collection and often glance through a few of the books, which is how I came to read The Abbey Girls in Town. Before coming to work here I knew nothing about Oxenham but I quickly learnt that she was the author of the very collectable Abbey series. Until recently I had not knowingly read any of her books. I say 'knowingly' as I think I read one of my mother's books but I can't remember the title or anything about it other than the girls in the book did lots of country dancing!
What links Egyptian Birds, Bonnie Scotland, Children and War?
The answer is that they are among the ninety-two 20/- (20 shillings) series of Colour Books published by A. & C. Black between 1901 and 1921. The Edwardian period was, perhaps, the peak time for book illustrations as, although photography was well established, the black and white images could not match the brilliance of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac and their contemporaries for colour illustrations. The A. & C. Black's 20/- series used water-colour artists and was the first to use the new "three colour" process for colour plates. The books were lavish in their use of colour illustrations with most volumes having 70 or more colour plates.
'Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.'
So begins the extraordinary obituary that appeared in the New York Tribune following the death of the pioneer American author and critic in 1849. Signed by “Ludwig”, the writer of this obituary was soon identified as Rufus Wilmot Griswold, an editor and critic that had borne a grudge against Poe since the early 1840s. But Griswold did not stop at the obituary: he arranged for himself to become Poe's literary executor, and set out to destroy the author's reputation in a breathtaking series of forgeries and revisions to Poe's writings. Although denounced by those who knew Poe, Griswold's biography (the only one available) was accepted by much of the general public, who no doubt were titillated by the thought of reading the words of an 'evil' man.
It was the illustrations that first drew me to Helen Bradley’s books. There is such detail in them that they almost tell the story without the need for words. Helen Bradley depicts ‘how things were’ in the 1900’s. She began to paint when her grandchildren asked what life was like when she was a child. Her paintings certainly bring to life the Edwardian era of her childhood. So if you, like me, like to read history in story books this is one for you!
Helen Bradley was born in November 1900 at 58 High Street, Lees near Oldham. This had been a rural area but the cotton mills had spread out from Oldham and instead of fields were rows of back-to-back houses, some of them built by Helen’s grandfathers.
The author, Thomas Wester, is a Swedish photographer with a splendid love ofcats. Cats have been his subject of choice for over twenty years. He started his photography at the end of the 1960's and five years later he acquired his first cat. His love and interest in cats escalated from then on. Wester was encouraged in his work by friends and colleagues and many of his pictures were published in magazines and newspapers. When he found that more people were writing to him about his cat photographs than any of his other pictures, he started to think about publishing a book of photographs of cats.
In putting together this book, his aim was to draw away from the common trend of photographing 'cuddly kittens in full colour with silk bows, sitting on turquoise paper', similar to those seen in today's coffee table books. He wanted to take photographs of cats in their natural surroundings, in natural poses, simply going about their everyday life.