Museum of Childhood Books II

Looking at the sketches that I made in my sketchbook yesterday (2nd March 2017), I realised I was drawn again to the hand-drawn typography. The example below was copied from the frontispiece of a version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales translated by L.L.Weedon. I thought it was oddly short: ‘There was once…’ sounds more incomplete than ‘Once upon a time…’ somehow. The book seemed like it might have been a cheap version of the fairy tales to me. They contained “ten colour plates by Ada Dennis and numerous illustrations by E.Stuart Hardy and Others”. The book was quite mismatched because of the different illustration styles. Perhaps the publishers didn’t have enough money to commission an illustrator to illustrate the whole book.


There are also strange mischievous looking gnomes everywhere – at the ends of the stories and depicted in the illuminated initial letters. They suggest a Germanic folklore to me – this is because gnomes aren’t talked about as much in British folk tales as much, at least not in modern tales. There were also Grimm’s stories in this collection that I’d never read before – seemingly more sinister and mournful ones. One called: The Story of the Death of the Little Hen ended “…Cocky-locky was left alone with the little dead hen… and he fretted so much and so long that at length he died too, and then everyone was dead” (page 54).


There wasn’t a date on the book but the archivist Lynn said it was probably published between 1890 – 1910.


Grimm’s Fairy Tales [approx. 1890-1910] translated by L.L.Weedon and illustrations by Ada Dennis, E.Stuart Hardy and Others London: Ernest Lister and New York: E.P.Dutton&co.


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