Classics of Children's Literature

Charles Dickens.  A Christmas Carol, in Prose.  Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.  With illustrations by John Leech.  London:  Chapman & Hall, 1843.  First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.

Charles Dickens.  The Cricket on the Hearth.  A Fairy Tale of Home.  London:  Printed and published by the author by Bradbury and Evans, 1846 [c1845].  First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.

In addition to his immensely popular A Christmas Carol, prolific Victorian novelist Charles Dickens (1812–1870) published four other books for subsequent Christmas markets; the ABL has first editions of each of these.  The three titles not displayed are The Chimes (1845), The Battle of Life.  A Love Story (1846), and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain (1848).  John Leech, English caricaturist and illustrator (1817–1864), whose delightful frontispiece depicting “Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball” is displayed, is best known for his work for Punch, a popular magazine full of political satire and social comedy.

Click the image above to view additional scans from A Christmas Carol and The Cricket on the Hearth.


Charles Kingsley.  The Water-Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby.  With two illustrations by J. Noel Paton.  London & Cambridge:  Macmillan and Co., 1863.  First edition. Frontispiece, title-page and additional illustration.

This children’s novel by the Rev. Charles Kingsley (1819–1875), Anglican priest, historian, novelist, and university professor, was first serialized in Macmillan’s Magazine in 1862–63 before appearing in book form.  It is a moral fable, concerned with Christian redemption, which also includes satire in support of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species.  It was a hugely popular children’s book in England well into the twentieth century but, due to its expression of some of the common prejudices of the time, has now lost favor with some readers.  Kingsley dedicated the book to his youngest son, Grenville Arthur, and to all other good little boys.  Scottish artist, illustrator, and sculptor Joseph Noel Paton (1821–1901) contributed two drawings for the publication.


Mark Twain.  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  Hartford, Conn.: Chicago, Ill.: Cincinnati, Ohio:  The American Publishing Co.; San Francisco, Cal.: A. Roman & Co., 1876.  First American edition. Frontispiece and title-page.

Mark Twain.  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer’s Comrade).  With one hundred and seventy-four illustrations.  New York:  Charles L. Webster and Co., 1885.  First American edition. Frontispiece and title-page.

Writing under the pen name Mark Twain, American author and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835–1910) produced these two classic novels, beloved for over a century by children and adults alike.  Drawing on his own boyhood memories of life in Missouri along the banks of the Mississippi River, Twain created the unforgettable characters of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and used his storytelling to both entertain and make critical social observations.  Both volumes are illustrated with small vignettes throughout, created by two American artists.  Truman W. “True” Williams (1839-1897) supplied the illustrations for the first edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, giving readers their first visual impressions of Tom and Huck; Edward Windsor Kemble (1861-1933) illustrated the first edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Click the image above to view additional scans from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


Frances Hodgson Burnett.  Little Lord Fauntleroy.  New York:  Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1886.  First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.

This was the first children’s novel in book form published by English/American author Frances Burnett (1849–1924).  It was illustrated by English/American illustrator Reginald B. Birch (1856-1943).  Prior to this edition, the text had appeared serially in St. Nicholas Magazine between November 1885 and October 1886.  The story is of a boy, raised in poverty, who becomes heir to an earldom, and whose innocent belief in the goodness of his grandfather changes the Earl into the man the boy has believed him to be.  Burnett went on to write two other popular novels for children, A Little Princess (1905) and The Secret Garden (1911).

Click the image above to view additional scans from Little Lord Fauntleroy.


Rudyard Kipling.  The Jungle Book.  With illustrations by J. L. Kipling, W. H. Drake, and P. Frenzey.  London:  Macmillan and Co., 1894.  First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.

This popular classic is a collection of short stories, set in India, which were first published in magazines in 1893–94.  With The Jungle Book, English short story writer, poet, and novelist Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936), who was born in India, used animal stories to teach moral lessons to his young readers.  A sequel, The Second Jungle Book, also held by the ABL, was published the following year.  Some of the best-known stories tell the adventures of Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle.  Kipling is also known for his novel Kim (1901) and for poems such as “Gunga Din,” “The White Man’s Burden,” and “If—.”  He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.  One of the illustrators of The Jungle Book was the author’s father, John Lockwood Kipling (1837–1911), English art teacher, illustrator, and museum curator.

Click the image above to view additional scans from The Jungle Book.

Classics of Children's Literature