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A. A. Milne – A literary success

Pay attention to where you are going because without meaning you might get nowhere.”  said A. A. Milne.

Allen Alexander Milne was to create happiness for many adults and children with his verses and tales of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, yet he gained little pleasure from the success of the books.

The British-born “A.A. Milne,” as he was known to millions of readers, began his career as an essayist for the Punch magazine and moved onto producing light hearted plays and novels in his own right. His initial literary works enjoyed some notoriety and a loyal following. His early works included short stories, “The Sunny Side” (1921),  A Gallery of Children” (1925) and the play “The Dover Road” (1921) which were all well received.

The first appearance of The Pooh character was in the Punch magazine as a poem, “Teddy Bear” published in February 1924 and again in a Christmas Eve story called “The Wrong Sort of Bees”. Milne was encouraged to write more children’s verses and “When We Were Very Young” was published in 1924, quickly followed by “Winnie the Pooh” in 1926. A further book of children’s verses was produced in 1927 in “Now We Are Six”. The charming illustrations were drawn by Ernest Shepard who had links with the Punch magazine and his drawings helped to promote the Winnie The Pooh stories into a rare and roaring success.

Milne was beginning to feel constrained by the restraints that his readers demanded to create more of the Pooh stories. He reluctantly obliged in his next book, “The House at Pooh Corner” in 1928. Milne continued to pursue his other literary persuits during this time producing the stories of “The Secret and Other Stories”(1929) and the plays “The Fourth Wall” (1928) and “The Ivory Door” (1929). Milne enjoyed writing whatever pleased him and appeared to revel in the movement from verse, play and story which was not encouraged by his Winnie The Pooh followers. Milne commented that he has “Said goodbye to all that in 70,000 words” (the length of the four principle children’s books) although his publisher, Methuen, continued to issue whatever Milne produced with approximately twenty five further works of novels, plays, political polemics and essays. These included “The Toad of Toad Hall” (1929), “Michael And Mary”(1930) and “Two People” (1931). Unfortunately these literary works did not come with the public recognition Milne sought and he continued to dislike being cast as a children’s author. “The World of Pooh” won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 but I suspect that it held little joy for A. A. Milne to receive it.

I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,” said Pooh. “There there,” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”  A. A. Milne Winnie the Pooh
The-Sunny-Side-First-Edition-A.A.Milne 1921Michael-And-Mary-A.A.Milne-First-Edition-1930Two-People-First-Edition-A.A.Milne 1931A-Gallery-Of-Children-A.A.Milne-First-EditionThe toad of Toad Hall by A.A Milne 1st edition

“It is a terrible thing for an author to have a lot of people running about his book without any invitation from him at all.” – A. A. Milne

 

To view more of his rare and first edition books visit our page A .A .Milne and I hope you enjoy all of his publications!

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 A Whizz through Arthur Rackham and his use of the Silhouette in Cinderella

 “Rackham gave his talk on Silhouettes to the Art Workers’ Guild in November 1919, the month in which Cinderella, the first of his two great silhouette books, was published. Cinderella and The Sleeping Beauty differed from Rackham’s preceding books in relying almost wholly on silhouette for their effect. It is immediately clear from the collection of images that Rackham is a master of the medium, being able to evoke character and humour by profile and gesture alone and allowing the two-dimensional effect of his pen work to lead the reader through the book and keep the story going.” (James Hamilton. Arthur Rackham, A. Biography, p. 188).

As I hold this antique book of Cinderella (the rare signed first edition) open in my palms, the skill and beauty of Arthur Rackham’s silhouette masterpieces is truly enchanting.

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The facing title page treats you to the only tipped in colour illustration of Cinderella. She looks longingly out of the window, dressed in soft rags and appearing vulnerable. Below her are stark black silhouettes of the ugly sisters, gaily dancing with equally unattractive beaux – the contrast in mood is masterful.

C.S. Evans, the author, proceeds to recount the tale of Cinderella and Rackham flawlessly instills life into this cherished tale. In “The Baroness and her Daughters, Evans introduces chapter IV with the words “Have you ever noticed that there are some people whom you are not going to like the first time you set eyes on them?”- Rackham depicts this clearly.

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Rackham vividly presents the mood of these characters. Cinderella’s loneliness and sadness is tangible while the ugly sisters’ mistreat her and their horror is real when they see Cinderella’s foot fits in the shoe.

Rackham also expertly conveys humour through his illustrations. “We’ll have this fat fellow, because he has such a splendid set of whiskers.” The poor rat who is transformed into a coachman looks charmingly horrified!

The careful use of colour is another technique that Rackham employs with a brilliant rare touch. He adorns a double page spread with soft pink and green to illustrate the transformation of Cinderella and her coach, ensuring the magic flows from the page.

“The pumpkin immediately changed into a magnificent coach, all glass above and gilded panels below!”
The way in which energy and movement is portrayed within Rackham’s illustrations is captivating. It is evident in the dancing scenes through his successful use of carefully placed small silhouettes that lay on the page at jaunty angles. “Dance succeeded dance” is the mood he creates.

Similarly Rackham beautifully generates the images for her flight from the ball. “Cinderella ran as she had never ran before. She lost herself in the shrubberies, and found her way out again, blundered among the flower beds, and snapped roses from their stalks in the speed of her flight.”

The final picture summarises Rackham’s skills in silhouette illustration– fine graceful lines that convey so much emotion and movement – “Cinderella and the Prince lived happily ever after for the rest of their lives.”

What a true master of his craft!

http://rareandantiquebooks.com/product/limited-edition-of-cinderella-retold-by-c-s-evans-illustrated-and-signed-by-arthur-rackham/

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Passing on Treasured Books – it’s a mixed feeling!

The Chronicles of Narnia Collection First Edition by C. S. Lewis

With much excitement (and a touch of sadness which I’ll explain later) we recently sold a rare, first edition set of The Chronicles of Narnia books and it started me thinking about the rather wonderful act of handing on antique treasured items of one’s childhood.

Recent high value sales of the Narnia series were significant for their personal attachment to the book – think of the 2012 sale of “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, by the owner, Mr Hardie, who was the son of one of C. S. Lewis’s best friends. He knew Lewis simply as “Jack”, a friendly visitor who gave him books on his family visits. It was only years later that he realised how valuable the books were. Luckily for Mr Hardie, Lewis has signed the copy “Nicholas Hardie, with love from Jack Lewis” so added further value with the copy selling for around £12,000. The recent sale of a are full set which fetched £25,000 in June at Southerby’s, must clearly have meant a lot to the buyer! Our recent sale of the Chronicles set had been owned by a family who needed a boost of cash so reluctantly sold off their childhood favourite stories. It was pleasant to know that they were bought as a special gift for the purchaser’s wife who fondly remembered the Narnia stories from her youth.

As Mr Hardie said when he submitted his special Lewis edition for auction, “I’ve kept it safe all these years but I don’t know how much the new generation values antique books. Maybe this book can be passed into the hands of someone who will treat it with respect.”

Another full set of Narnia 1st editions is just about to to be listed, photographed and added to our website – it is always a special moment for me to ponder on the history and hands that rare books have passed through and when, as book dealers, we sell them, I am often just a little sad to see these treasured books go.

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Florence Upton-The Original Golliwogg Illustrator.

Rare and Antique Books feature many iconic illustrated children’s books and one of the most influential of the characters is the Golliwogg created by Florence Upton. Clearly the character is now culturally controversial, yet in it’s time the golliwog was initially created as an innocent and playful character which inspired the creation of a popular children’s toy throughout most of the 20th century. Who was the illustrator and creator of this children’s character?

The story of Florence Upton

Florence Upton was born in Flushing, New York on 22 February 1873 to British parents who had recently emigrated to America. She was the second of four children born into a creative and slightly eccentric household. In 1884, the family moved to central Manhattan near The National Acadamy of Design where free instruction was offered to anyone who could qualify. Her father enrolled Florence for evening class tuition in art where her artistic skills were nurtured. The premature death of her father in June 1889 resulted in a loss of a steady income and at the age of 16 Florence secured work as a professional illustrator of novels or books of short stories.

The Upton family finances finally stabilised and the family were able to visit Bertha’s relatives in Hampstead, London. Florence’s established reputation from her published work in New York, meant she was able to secure employment with London publishers and she remained in the England whilst her family returned to New York. Florence’s skill in illustrating developed as she enlisted in further art training and experimented with her ideas.

The fascination with children’s stories

Florence Upton started to consider working with children’s books and was inspired by her “penny wooden” dolls and an old childhood toy named “Golliwogg”, a toy she had played with as a small child in New York. The then-nameless “Negro minstrel doll” was treated roughly by the Upton children yet in her stories she developed his character into a friendly helpful toy.  She developed the illustrations and character and worked with her mother, Bertha who wrote the verses, to produce their first story, “The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg”.  This was in 1894 published by Longmans, Green & Co for the Christmas publication of 1895.

Florence’s Golliwogg proved to be highly popular in the time and Florence and her mother went onto to produce thirteen adventures until changing tastes made “Golliwogg in the African Jungle” the last in the series in 1909.

Influenced by Global travelling

Whilst in London, Florence Upton continued to provide illustrations for The Strand, the Idler and Punch magazine. After three years of work, she returned to New York to further her studies at the Art Students League and then in Paris and Holland. In 1906 Florence returned to London where she continued her career as an artist exhibiting in the Royal Academy, London. Unable to serve in the First World War due to ill health, Florence assisted the war effort by donating her dolls and original Golliwogg drawings for the Red Cross. The monies raised bought an ambulance named “Golliwogg” which went to the Front and served in France.

Florence continued working as an artist and illustrator, mainly of portraits, until her unfortunate death after abdominal surgery in 16 October 1922 at the age of 49. Her legacy of the Golliwogg toys inspired by her character are now displayed in the  Museum of Childhood at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

A twist on the Golliwogg name

Unfortunately Florence Upton did not trademark her character and its name, spelled “golliwog”, became the generic name for dolls and images of a similar type.  Recognising a large and profitable market, many toy companies took advantage of the popularity of the books and manufactured the doll. Other writers and illustrators took equal advantage, many changing the nature of the series. For example, the character was developed by Enid Blyton, often as a villain and sometimes as heroes, yet Upton’s Golliwogg was jovial, friendly and gallant.

The character exemplifies racial disharmony and is clearly socially inappropriate in modern times and so the character remains controversial today- little did Florence know when she created the image and character of the Golliwogg that it would play such an influential part in social history and children’s play through most of the 20th century.

Rare and Antique Books have several of the landmark Golliwogg books by Florence Upton which would add to any collection of socially significant children’s books.

 

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First edition childrens books – a novel trend in birthday presents?

First edition children’s books as a present? Struggling for ideas for a special birthday present for your loved one? For a while Red Letter Days had the answer but is there an emerging trend for first edition rare books to be that unusual gift? Not any old book but predominantly First edition children’s books with an attachment to fond childhood memories.
Recent sales of First edition children’s book: 
Recent purchases from the Rare and Antique Book website indicate this trend. Sales of the full first edition set of The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, and the set of four Pooh books by A. A. Milne were bought as birthday presents for the respective buyers’ partners who had loved reading them as a child. With book sets listed at £6500 and £1250 respectively, these were clearly either very special birthdays or bought by those with higher disposable income than the average person on the street.
Feeling interested? 
If you are looking for similar special birthday presents other current listings on the site include first editions of the rare Histoire de Babar priced at £500, a 1939 “Movie Edition” of The Wizard of Oz listed at £215, the Lord of the Rings trilogy from the 50’s at £750, through to a two book set of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1867) and Through the Looking Glass (1872) on for £2350.
There seems to be another advantage in first edition books as presents -not only do books like these tug at the heart strings but they offer an even more unusual investment opportunity if, of course, the buyer can bare to part with them!

Check here for more rare first edition children’s book ideas for presents! First edition childrens books

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