Get ready for a toothache – it’s Mabel Lucie Attwell.
It’s a lovely side effect that, until I started blogging this series of posts I never really realised what a lovely collection of works I have, of some of the great classic children’s book illustrators. When I picked this week’s book and started to look through it I realised I probably haven’t done that for maybe 20 years or more, and following on from last week’s post, it’s a rare and precious thing to rediscover lost childhood memories through the pages of a beloved book. That said, this isn’t the usual fare you might expect from what Mother Eagle usually brings you. I’m afraid the pixies don’t get posioned with their picnic sandwiches here.
Although this book was published in 1984, it is an anthology of the work by Attwell that was published in annuals between 1965 and 1974. She was born in London in 1879, the daughter of a butcher. Formerly trained, but disliking the emphasis on still life and classical subjects she left art school to develop her own interest in the imaginary. She had a long successful career, but is most famous for her trademark ‘sentimentalized rotund cuddly infants’ which were based on her daughter, Peggy.
The sweetness and nostalgia is just so England; the stories all Rock buns and blue striped Cornishware and seaside postcards. Obviously this particular book was aimed at the bedtime story-reading market, and I remember it was the whole combination of stories and illustrations that captured my imagination, and looking through the book now I recall the pages that I would look at over and over.
“[Atwell] also produced a tea set; the teapot was in the shape of a mushroom house, the sugar bowl was a mushroom with the top cut off and the milk jug was a green Boo Boo (small green elves in green suits apparently) in a coy saluting pose.”