Wednesday, June 2, 2010

By a Woman's Hand: Illustrators of the Golden Age by Mary Carolyn Waldrep

By a Woman's Hand: Illustrators of the Golden Age

By a Woman's Hand: Illustrators of the Golden Age compiled by Mary Carolyn Waldrep arrived at my doorstep yesterday from Amazon.  I was thrilled to open it for this is a subject matter close to my own heart.  I've been raised by an art historian with many vacations spent in art museums.  I learned at an early age that most artwork in museums is not by women and am thus thrilled when time and space is devoted to work by a woman's hand.  The Golden Age of Illustration is one of the earlier periods in history where women began to have a firmer hold in an art field as well as in the marketplace.  What a wonderful time it was for art and illustration and not just for this reason, but because there is so much beautiful work to behold and study!  Of course, for me it doesn't hurt that so much of it was devoted to fairy tales.

This new Dover publication has 134 pages and at least 120 illustrations--I didn't count but it seems to be more than that--by 22 different women illustrators.  So, yes, this means not a lot by any one single artist.  Consider this book an excellent overview instead.  There is a short introduction to the collection--about three pages long--as well as a few paragraphs introducing each artist, many of whom I am not overly familiar with and some whose work I am.  I'm going to be generous and type the entire list of artists and include links to the ones who have illustration galleries on SurLaLune:

Kate Greenaway
Florence Harrison
Beatrix Potter
Helen Stratton
Elizabeth Shippen Green
Jessie Willcox Smith
Jessie Marion King
Elenore Plaisted Abbott
Mabel Lucie Attwell
Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
Ruth Mary Hallock
Henriette Willebeek Le Mair
Margaret Winifred Tarrant
Margaret Evans Price
Anne Anderson
Clara M. Burd
Blanche Fisher Wright
Dorothy Pulis Lathrop
Lois Lenski
Virginia Frances Sterrett
Eulalie Bachman
Fern Bisel Peat

Roughly half these women illustrated fairy tales at some point in their careers to my knowledge.  Lois Lenski's illustrations are still under copyright and thus not available for me to put on SurLaLune.  I have been planning a Virginia Frances Sterrett gallery for a while as well as Florence Henderson although the sites I linked to did a more thorough job than I would do on SurLaLune. 

Kate Greenaway Illustrations CD-ROM and Book (Dover Electronic Clip Art) Kate Greenaway Alphabet Charted Designs (Dover needlework series) Kate Greenaway Iron-on Transfer Patterns (Dover Needlework Series)

Language of Flowers (From Stencils and Notepaper to Flowers and Napkin Folding) Four Kate Greenaway Girls Sticker Paper Dolls Kate Greenaway Paper Dolls

Of all the artists listed here, many have enough work to have books entirely devoted to them.  Of all of them, Dover only has books devoted to one, Kate Greenaway.  So my hope is that more of them will receive their own books, especially Jessie Willcox Smith and a few others.  Name recognition is afterall key.  Publishing is a business.  Although there are a few books about Smith by other publishers, Dover has not published one of their overview collections yet.  Hopefully if this book sells well, more will be considered by the publisher.  So it's up to you to "vote" for collections like these by purchasing this one.

Classic Children's Book Illustrations CD-ROM and Book (Dover Electronic Clip Art)

Finally, Mary Carolyn Waldrep previously edited Classic Children's Book Illustrations CD-ROM and Book (Dover Electronic Clip Art) which also contains the work of several illustrators, several of the examples are fairy tales, too. 

Thanks to Jeff Menges for the original heads up about this book!


  1. Aw, that sounds really good-thanks for sharing! I'm going to start looking up all the artists you've listed :D xxxxxx

  2. This looks like a wonderful book. Thanks for the heads up! ;-)