Seven Stories has delved into its own archive to put together a book about children’s illustration, which it will publish with Walker Books in October.
Drawn from the Archive: Hidden Histories of Illustration is edited by Sarah Lawrence, Seven Stories’ collection director, who looks at the history of children’s illustration by focusing on 27 artists from the 1930s to the present day.
Using illustrations from the museum’s archives, Lawrence guides the reader through how the images from some of the most famous books, from Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes (J.M. Dent & Sons, 1936) to Yasmeen Ismail’s Time for Bed, Fred! (Bloomsbury, 2013), were created. Sketches, storyboards and drafts are all shown, as well as the final pictures.
The book also reveals the story behind the work, for example, explaining how Faith Jacques, the first illustrator of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was devastated when her original artwork was lost by either her publisher or the printer, meaning she could not exhibit or sell the artwork.
In the chapter on Billy and Belle (Reinhardt Books, 1992), Lawrence says illustrator Garland was asked to change the end papers of the book because they showed mixed-race parents lying in bed, and the publisher thought the book would not sell in South Africa and the US. Garland refused.
The introduction to the book is written by Jacqueline Wilson, who said Drawn from the Archive: Hidden Histories of Illustration is a “beautiful book to treasure, not just for children’s literature experts, but for anyone who has ever responded joyfully to a particular picture in a book”.
“One of my favourite books as a child was Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild," Wilson said. "I pretended I was a fourth sister to the Fossil girls and pranced around our flat in my pink bedroom slippers. I read that little Puffin paperback so many times that its green cover disintegrated." “When I picked up a copy of Ballet Shoes as an adult I felt a wave of warm nostalgia. Not only did I know the text almost by heart, but also the black and white illustrations by Ruth Gervis were still wonderfully familiar because I had copied them many times and used them as inspiration for my imaginary games.”
Seven Stories and Walker Books will publish on 1st October in paperback (£9.99).