Illustrating the Stories of Hans Christian Andersen

Among our vast collection of illustrated books from the early 20th century (“the Golden Age of Illustration” as some like to call it), we find that artists are continuously drawn to envision the timeless magic of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Below are selected images from such stories, showing the range of styles and interpretations that illustrators have garnered through familiar tales like “The Snow Queen”, “The Little Mermaid”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, and “The Ugly Duckling”.

NC965 .A52  Fairy Tales (date unknown) illustrator unknown

NC978 .5 .R622 H36 1913  Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales (1913) illustrated by Heath Robinson


NC978 .5 .C52 F3  The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Perrault (19–?) illustrated by Harry Clarke

NC978 .5 .D8 A5  Stories From Hans Andersen (1911) illustrated by Edmund Dulac

NC978 .5 .W34 F3 1914  Fairy Tales From Hans Christian Andersen (1914) illustrated by Dugald Stewart Walker

NC986 .5 .S92 H5  Historien Om en Moder (1929) illustrated by Fritz Syberg

-posted by Laura Guerin, IL 12



If you’ve been to the library recently, you may have seen our new exhibition called Pochoir: Art of the Stencil, which features books which were printed primarily in France in the 1920’s – 1930’s. Pochoir is a hand applied stencil technique used for color reproduction in book printing. Read more about the exhibit and pochoir process here. The exhibit will be on display through April 8th.

Of course, as anyone who has put together an exhibit knows, you sometimes have to make heartbreaking decisions about what to exclude. One of my personal favorites that didn’t make the cut is a 1944 Limited Editions Club copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson. This edition was illustrated in pen and ink by Roger Duvoisin and “colored by hand at the studio of Charlize Brakely” (~colophon).  Duvoisin is best known for his series of “Petunia”, “Veronica” and “Happy Lion” books. He was born in Geneva, Switzerland, and worked in textiles in Paris and the U.S. as a young man. He began illustrating children’s books some time after the silk production firm he worked for went bankrupt in the Great Depression, and went on to have a long, prolific illustration career. I especially love the combination of Duvoisin’s lively pen and ink drawings with the gorgeous candy-colored pochoir stenciling used here. These digital images hardly do justice to the real thing, which is a reminder of why books with pochoir printing are special.

-posted by Ariel Bordeaux

from Suggestions by E.A. Seguy

endpaper illustration by Roger Duvoisin

detail of Roger Duvoisin endpapers illustration

Two Upcoming Book Events

The  second annual Boston Book Festival will be held in various locations in Boston on Saturday October 16th from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.  Admission is free. The festival will include writers’ and artists’ presentations, book signings, workshops, booksellers and exhibitors, children’s events and activities, a street fair, and live music.  For the complete schedule of events got to Read more about the book festival in a recent article in the Boston Globe.

Another event taking place in Providence, organized by the Rhode Island Center for the Book, is the 2010 Art of the Book Program: Bound in Leather being held on Saturday October 30 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, which is free and open to the public.  At 2:00 pm Phoebe S. Bean, Printed Collection Librarian at the Rhode Island Historical Society, will give a lecture entitled “Original Skin: A History of Books and Leather in New England”.  Ms. Bean will present an illustrated history of leather bindings, both imported and domestic, and discuss their integrated role in the development of Rhode Island and New England society.  This lecture will take place at the RIHS Aldrich House, 110 Benevolent Street in Providence.

In conjunction with this lecture there will be statewide exhibits of leather book bindings in Rhode Island Collections at the following locations:  David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University; the John Carter Brown Library; the Providence Athenaeum; the Providence Public Library Special Collections; the Redwood Library and Athenaeum; the Rhode Island Historical Society, the Fleet Library at RISD; and the University of RI Special Collections.