Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Books and their illustrators

I've always collected anything and everything but have favoured some things more than others. I now realise that quite a few of my acquisitions are related to some of my favourite books. As I love to discover what I can about a book's illustrator I always look for details of their life and work. Brambly Hedge is my first example. The omnibus edition contains the four seasons stories and also looks at the life of author and illustrator Jill Barklem.

My daughter has all the individual story books.

I have several pieces of Brambly Hedge china of which this is just a small selection!

I love Mabel Lucie Attwell's illustrations of chubby children and over the years I've managed to acquire many of her early annuals. There is a short introduction charting MLA's life in the book on the left by Chris Beetles. The remaining pages are filled with many Attwell illustrations.

This is my only Attwell figurine.

Designs from 'The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady' could be seen everywhere in the 1980s. They decorated oven mitts, biscuit tins, teasets and bed linen, It was possible to have your entire house decked out in Country Diary style which indeed some people did, although I wasn't one of them! The associated book about Edith Holden's life and work makes a very interesting read.

Although I didn't buy any of the household wares I couldn't resist this Country Diary knitting book by Annette Mitchell. It contains some gorgeous patterns.

Beatrix Potter is another favourite of mine. This excellent book by Judith Taylor gives a detailed account of her life and work. Beatrix lived in the Lake District and so our local shops are chock-full of Peter Rabbits and Jemima Puddle-Ducks.

As I live in the area it has been difficut over the years to resist buying just a 'just a few' Potter figurines.

Don't you just love this depiction of 'The Old Woman who lived in a Shoe'.

I spent much of this summer designing two new dolls, one of which is based on the much loved American character Raggedy Ann. Before I started work I needed to find out more about her so acquired Patricia Hall's book about Johnny Gruelle the creator. He was a prolific and very talented artist and I immediately fell in love with his heartwarming stories about the little rag doll.

Below is my knitted version of Raggedy Ann. Having read the book about Johnny Gruelle and several of his early stories I was determined to try and recapture the sweet nature of his original Raggedy Ann.

My most recent book acqisition is 'The Art of Holly Hobbie'. I stumbled upon this quite by chance on Amazon last week. As soon as I saw the title I knew I'd have to buy it. Many people believe that Holly Hobbie is the name of the little girl in the large blue hat, but it isn't, it's the name of the illustrator. I couldn't wait to get inside the book and find out more.

I was a huge fan of Holly Hobbie greetings cards in the 70s and 80s and many of my friends and family came to expect a HH card for birthdays and Christmas. As I turned the pages of the book I noticed many of the pictures looked familiar, it was like meeting old friends again.

This little girl is of course instantly recognisable as the Holly Hobbie trademark.

The book contains lots of beautiful illustrations plus a hand written account by Holly Hobbie describing how the 'little girls with big hats' became popular worldwide and which of her children inspired particular pictures.

There are some lovely insights into life in the Hobbie household.

This is the family's lovely old house in New England where the children grew up.
The huge fireplace at the heart of the home made the perfect setting for a Christmas Eve illustration. Just look at the expressions on the children's faces!

If, like me, you remember with affection the many Holly Hobbie illustrations and would like to find out what inspired several of them then I can recommend the 'Art of Holly Hobbie'. It was first published in 1986 and should be available from Amazon. I don't think you'll be disppointed.

Holly Hobbie now illustrates her popular children's books about two little pigs named Toot and Puddle.