Children's Literature by Famous Authors
Richard Henry [later changed to Hengist] Horne. Memoirs of a London Doll, Written by Herself. Edited by Mrs Fairstar (Otherwise Mr Richard Henry Horne) with an introduction and notes by Margery Fisher. With four illustrations by Miss Margaret Gillies, and additional decorations by Richard Shirley Smith. Reprint of the 1846 edition published in London by Joseph Cundall. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1967. Frontispiece and title-page.
Richard Hengist Horne (1802?–1884) was an English writer who is now best known for his epic poem Orion (1843). He was a friend of both Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett, with whom he corresponded frequently before her marriage.
Horne published Memoirs of a London Doll using the pseudonym Mrs. Fairstar and was not acknowledged as the author for many years. It is the story of a doll, Maria Poppet, and the various little girls who successively make a home for her, acting as “little mammas.” A Christmas book, the story runs from one Christmas to the next, while taking the reader, in a series of vignettes, on a tour of 1840s London. The illustrator of the volume, Margaret Gillies (1803–1887), was a Scottish water-colorist and painter.
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Nathaniel Hawthorne. A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys. With engravings by Baker from designs by Billings. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1852 [c1851]. First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.
While best known for The Scarlet Letter (1850) and The House of Seven Gables (1851), American novelist and short story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) retold classical myths for children in both this book and another held by the ABL, Tanglewood Tales, for Girls and Boys; Being a Second Wonder-Book (1853). After noting that he did not think it necessary to write downward, in order to meet the comprehension of children, Hawthorne ends his preface in this volume with the following: Children possess an unestimated sensibility to whatever is deep or high, in imagination or feeling, so long as it is simple, likewise. It is only the artificial and the complex that bewilders them.
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[William Makepeace Thackeray]. The Rose and the Ring: or, The History of Prince Giglio and Prince Bulbo. A Fireside Pantomine for Great and Small Children. By Mr. M. A. Titmarsh (W. M. Thackeray). New York: Harper & Brothers, 1855. First American edition. Frontispiece and title-page.
English satirical novelist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863), best known for his novel Vanity Fair (1848), published this fantasy for children for the Christmas market of 1854, although it is dated 1855. The story is set in a fictional country and concerns four young royal cousins. The attitudes of the monarchy and high society are criticized through satire, and their ideas of beauty and marriage are questioned. In the preface, Thackeray relates that the story was created in Rome, the previous Christmas, as a Twelfth-Night amusement for some English children there. He closes by urging for a brief holiday, let us laugh and be as pleasant as we can. And you elder folks—a little joking, and dancing, and fooling, will do even you no harm. The author wishes you a merry Christmas, and welcomes you to the Fireside Pantomime.
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C.[harles] Kingsley.The Heroes; or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children. With eight illustrations by the author. Cambridge: Macmillan and Co., 1856. First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.
The Rev. Charles Kingsley (1819–1875) was an Anglican priest, as well as a professor, historian, and novelist. A prolific writer, his children’s classic The Water-Babies is displayed elsewhere in this exhibition. His historical novels include Hypatia (1853) and Westward Ho! (1855). As stated in the title, The Heroes is about Greek mythology and is dedicated to his children, Rose, Maurice, and Mary. In the preface, Kingsley offers part history lesson and part sermon, explaining the importance of Greek culture to the Western world and urging his children to be “heroic” in doing good for their fellowmen.
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[William Wordsworth]. Wordsworth’s Poems for the Young. With fifty illustrations by John MacWhirter and John Pettie, and a Vignette by J. E. Millais, R. A. London and New York: Alexander Strahan, 1866. Frontispiece and title-page.
Considered suitable for children, this volume of poems by the famous Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770–1850) was a gift from the poet Robert Browning to a young friend. It is inscribed by Browning on the half title-page, “Lily Benzon, with Robert Browning’s love. Christmas, 1865.” Wordsworth was English Poet Laureate from 1843 to 1850. Included among the 24 poems in the book are “We Are Seven,” “Lucy Gray,” and “To a Sky-Lark.”
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George MacDonald. Dealings with the Fairies. London: Alexander Strahan, 1867. First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.
Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister George MacDonald (1824–1905) was a pioneer in the field of fantasy literature. His work was a notable literary influence on the works of C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, and other significant writers of fantasy. His best-known works are the fantasy novels Phantastes (1858), At the Back of the North Wind (1871), The Princess and the Goblin (1872), and Lilith (1895). He was a mentor to Lewis Carroll, and his encouragement, and that of MacDonald’s children, convinced Carroll to publish Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
MacDonald once wrote, “I write, not for children, but for the child-like, whether they be of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.” Dealings with the Fairies, which has a short introductory note to his children, was the first of his books expressly intended for the young. It includes five short stories: “The Light Princess,” “The Giant’s Heart,” ”The Shadows,” “Cross Purposes,” and “The Golden Key.” The book is illustrated by English Pre-Raphaelite painter and illustrator Arthur Hughes (1832–1915).
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John Greenleaf Whittier, editor. Child Life in Prose. Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1874. First edition. Frontispiece and title-page.
American Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892) is best remembered for his anti-slavery writings and his long, narrative poem Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl (1866). He collaborated with American poet Lucy Larcom (1824–1893) to select poetry suitable for children. The anthology was published in 1871 as Child Life: A Collection of Poems, with Whittier named as editor. After its popular reception, publisher James Osgood encouraged the creation of this companion volume of prose stories. Whittier again worked with Larcom (unnamed, but referred to in the preface) to make selections from a wide range of literature for Child Life in Prose. Divided into three sections—“Stories of Child Life,” “Fancies of Child Life,” and “Memories of Child Life,” the book includes stories from both Whittier and Larcom, as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Celia Thaxter, Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Lamb, and L. Maria Child.
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Dame Wiggins of Lee, and her Seven Wonderful Cats: A Humorous Tale Written Principally by a Lady of Ninety. Edited, with additional verses, by John Ruskin, and with new illustrations by Kate Greenaway. Sunnyside, Orpington, Kent, 1885. Frontispiece and title-page.
John Ruskin (1819–1900), prominent art critic, social thinker, and author of works on a wide range of subjects, added rhymes on the third, fourth, eighth, and ninth pages of this edition—a story in verse for children, originally published in 1823. In the preface, Ruskin states that the first edition gave no account of what the cats learned in school, and he thought my younger readers might be glad of some notice of such particulars. He went on to recommend the book for the Christmas fireside, because it relates nothing that is sad, and pourtrays [sic] nothing that is ugly. Popular children’s book illustrator Kate Greenaway collaborated with four new illustrations.
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Mary and Charles Lamb. Tales from Shakespeare. With introductions and additions by F. J. Furnivall. Illustrated by Harold Copping. London, Paris, New York: Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1901. Two volumes bound as one. Title-page.
During his lifetime, English writer and essayist Charles Lamb (1775–1834), was part of an influential literary circle which included Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. He is best known today for his collected essays, published as Essays of Elia (1823) and for Tales of Shakespeare, written with his sister Mary (1764–1847) and first published in 1807 as Tales from Shakespear. Designed for the use of young persons. The illustrations are by Harold Copping (1863–1932), an English artist best known as an illustrator of Biblical scenes.
Although Mary Lamb wrote 13 of the 20 tales included in the volume (Charles contributing only 7 tragedies), her name did not appear on the title-page of the numerous successive editions for many years. Charles Lamb ended the preface with these words: What these Tales have been to you in childhood, that and much more it is my wish that the true Plays of Shakspere [sic] may prove to you in older years—enrichers of the fancy, strengtheners of virtue, a withdrawing from all selfish and mercenary thoughts, a lesson of all sweet and honourable thoughts and actions, to teach you courtesy, benignity, generosity, humanity; for of examples teaching these virtues, his pages are full.
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Robert Louis Stevenson. A Child’s Garden of Verses. Portland, Maine: Thomas B. Mosher, 1899. Title-page.
While best known for his classic adventure tales, Treasure Island (1883) and Kidnapped (1886), as well as the frightening novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), Scottish novelist, essayist, and travel writer Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894) was also a poet. This often- reprinted collection of verse for children was first published in 1885. It includes such classic children’s poems as “The Land of Counterpane,” “My Shadow,” and “The Swing.” Displayed here is a beautifully published private press edition.
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Algernon Charles Swinburne. The Springtide of Life, Poems of Childhood. With a preface by Edmund Gosse. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1918. Title-page.
This group of poems was published posthumously. They were gathered, arranged, and seen through the press by Edmund Gosse, a friend of the author. English poet, playwright, and critic Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909) is best known for his poetical works Atalanta in Calydon (1865), Poems and Ballads (1866), and Songs Before Sunrise (1871). In the preface, Gosse explains that, as his life neared its end, Swinburne frequently expressed his intention to extract from his various volumes those poems which were addressed to children, or were descriptive of child life, and to publish them in a separate collection. Gosse notes that one reason Swinburne never published such a collection was his failure to find an artist whom he felt could adequately interpret his verses. This collection is illustrated by leading English book illustrator Arthur Rackham (1867–1939), whose work Gosse describes as in sensitive harmony with Swinburne’s, and who understands, no less than he did, how “Heaven lies about us in our infancy.”
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