Specialist Sven Becker selects five lots offering special insight into the genius of legendary children’s authors and artists
These are the original printing plates for John Tenniel’s celebrated illustrations to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, used in the production of the legendarily rare first edition. Tenniel’s superb designs had a profound and lasting impact on nearly all subsequent interpretations of this text. The Tenniel-Carroll partnership endures as one of the most successful collaborations between artist and author in literary history.
This early, unfinished study from nature offers a glimpse into Beatrix Potter’s early artistic practice, and has a different charm to that of the stylised illustrations for which she would become so well known.
Even as Potter grew older her draughtsmanship remained wonderfully attentive. This is a working drawing, which was used to illustrate her 1905 publication Pie and the Patty Pan. It is amazing to see how, with just a few deft lines, Potter is able to create such a wealth of detail, thereby drawing the viewer into the scene and the magic of the story.
This is the first edition of one of the best-loved and most widely read works of fantasy. Until Harry Potter appeared many years later The Hobbit was the world’s best-selling single work of fiction. Publisher Stanley Unwin asked his 10-year-old son Rayner to read the manuscript, and only made up his mind to publish after having received his positive comments.
When We Were Very Young introduces Winnie-the-Pooh, one of the most popular characters in 20th-century children’s literature. When the book was first published in 1924 a reviewer in The Times immediately declared it ‘the greatest children’s book since Alice’. This lot is from the limited edition of only 20 copies, with each lithograph signed by the author and artist.