Once Upon a Time: Late Nineteenth Century Children’s Book Illustrations

Children’s books from the late nineteenth century have the best illustrations. Here’s why:

They are charming.

From Round the Hearth and Other Verses

From Round the Hearth [and other verses], 1889.

They are nonsensical.

Lilliput Lyrics  Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899

From Lilliput Lyrics. Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899.

They are stylish.

Songs for Little People Illustrated by H. Stratton, 1896.

From Songs for Little People. Illustrated by H. Stratton, 1896.

They are whimsical.

Artful Anticks, 1894

From Artful Anticks, 1894.

They are weird.

From Songs for Little People Illustrated by H. Stratton, 1896

From Songs for Little People. Illustrated by H. Stratton, 1896.

They are goofy.

From When Life is Young, 1894

From When Life is Young: a collection of verse for boys and girls, 1894.

They are wistful.

From Lilliput Lyrics Illustrated by Chas. Robinson 1899.

From Lilliput Lyrics. Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899.

They are…well, I don’t really have a word to describe this. Do you?

From Lilliput Lyrics Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899

From Lilliput Lyrics. Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899.

They are scary, in a non-harmful kind of way.

From Lilliput Lyrics Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899

From Lilliput Lyrics. Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899.

They are timeless.

From Lilliput Lyrics Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899

From Lilliput Lyrics. Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899.

They are intricate.

From Lilliput Lyrics Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899

From Lilliput Lyrics. Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899.

They are beautiful.

From Lilliput Lyrics Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899

From Lilliput Lyrics. Illustrated by Chas. Robinson, 1899.

They are entertaining.

From the Pied Piper of Hamelin Illustrated by Kate Greenaway, 1889

From the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Illustrated by Kate Greenaway, 1889.

They are literary. 

From The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 1895

From The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 1895.

All images are from The British Library’s flickr account, and are in the public domain.

8 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time: Late Nineteenth Century Children’s Book Illustrations

  1. So love the ‘mans naked foot in the shore’ illustration. We have been collecting childrens books from the early 20th century for some time, particularly school text books. We must do a post as they often have a punchy utopian vision of the world that is delightful.

    Like

    • There were so many to choose from. It was difficult for me to narrow down.

      I have a smallish collection of textbooks, too, going back to the 1850s. I never intended to collect them, it just sort of happened. Mine are all geared to older students, though.

      You should definitely do a post. What fun!

      Like

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