Foundlings, illustrations and independent bookshops

A couple of weeks ago I visited the ‘Drawing on Childhood’ exhibition at the Foundling Museum. Originally built as a hospital for orphans and unwanted children in 1741 by Thomas Coran, the museum hosts a permanent exhibition on the history of the hospital as well as  visiting exhibitions such as this one which looks at illustrations of foundlings in literature. From Oliver and Peter Pan, to Harry Potter and James and the Giant Peach, the exhibition displays a range of interpretations form the original first editions, to modern depictions of these much loved characters.

It was lovely to see how different illustrators had brought these children to life in such different styles. Below is Mabel Lucie Atwell’s work for a 1921 copy of Peter Pan alongside Steven White’s recent graphic novel of the tale. His drawings were slightly darker, with a nod to anime style, and I definitely want to get my hands on a copy.

As well as spotting some of my favourite titles, I was also awakened to some children’s classics that I have not yet had the pleasure of discovering, and have also added to my wishlist.

The following week, I found my self Easter-holidaying in Lyme Regis where I visited one of my favourite little finds – The Sanctuary Bookshop.23023193

This is an Aladdin’s cave of  bookshop with room after room of floor to ceiling bookshelves, stacks of antiques, memorabilia and framed cartoons – it even overflows to the basement! What I like most is the way the shelves are categorised. With entire sections dedicated to particular authors, or even to certain publishers and imprints, such as the old Penguin Classics, the layout encourages rummaging and discovery. There are also a mix of original treasures alongside more recent works, and obscure titles you may never have heard of.

Amongst the children’s classics, I spotted a beautiful, slightly love-worn 1921 edition of The Water Babies, filled with both line illustrations and colours works by George Soper. This was one of the titles from the exhibition that I have not yet read so I was delighted to add this stunning copy to my collection.

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