The following eleven lots come from a portfolio of drawings which Burne-Jones made to entertain and amuse his granddaughter, Angela Mackail (later Thirkell). He began the group in 1892, when she was eighteen months old. Burne-Jones loved drawing for children, including, as his wife Georgiana wrote, ‘the child that was always in himself’. When his children Philip and Margaret were young, he made series of drawings for them, often with an educational angle, such as The Heroic Stories of Britain or The Pleasures of the Plain. Another group, Horrors of Mountainous Lands, were rather more ominous, including depictions of monsters and natural disasters. When Margaret’s own children were born, her father was forbidden to make such terrifying drawings. As a result, this portfolio group largely consists of studies of landscapes, animals and school children, but there are a few more difficult drawings, such as The Whirlpool, as Burne-Jones sent his granddaughter ‘the latest news from Nightmare Land’.
Angela went on to become a very successful novelist, and Three Houses, published in 1931, is a childhood memoir which makes much of her idolisation of her maternal grandfather and his prodigious imagination.