Catherine Greenaway (1846-1901) is one of most influential illustrators of all times. Today she is known as Kate Greenaway and one of two most prestigious honors in the world of children’s illustrations is called by her name. Kate Greenaway Medal is award given by CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) and once a year it is awarded to illustrator of ‘distinguished illustration of children’s book’.
Who was Kate Greenaway? She studied in Royal College of Art in London, her illustrations were engraved by legendary Edmund Evans, her contemporaries were Randolph Caldecott and Walter Crane, she never married and she died of breast cancer. Her legacy is astonishing but if we can point out only one of her characteristics, we must note her pictures of children (boys and girls) in typical dresses which were probably inspired by portraits by John Hoppner from late 18th century.
This style was so influential ladies from 19th century started to dress their children to look as ‘fashionable’ as kids on Kate Greenaway’s illustrations!
Let’s look at some of her signature works, all in public domain, all found on Archive.org:
Under the Window was a collection of verses about children was a bestseller. It was published in 1878 and after that Kate Greenaway became established brand.
The illustration above is from inside title page. These dresses will stay with children drawn by Greenaway for good.
See her signature in left down corner?
The school is over!
Little Polly, will you go a walking today?
Kids are playing with a tiny go-cart
You are going out to tea today…
Poor Dicky is dead.
Another scene from children’s play from Kate Greenaway’s book Under the Window. Did I mention she wrote verses too? Actually she was pretty solid poet although we will remember her as illustrator forever.
Shall we join the masses, look over the wall and check some of KG’s other works?
A Day in a Child’s Life was also published by Routledge (1882) and engraved and printed by Edmund Evans. This is a book of songs, written by different authors. Music for all songs is work of Myles B. Foster (text was published alongside with notes) and illustrations are of course done by Miss Kate Greenaway.
Another classic illustration by Kate Greenaway with a kid in pastoral setting.
We have to start with waking.
Woa, it’s playtime!
Grace before meals.
A song of a doll – next part of a day in child’s life.
Child is tired…
Time for another prayer.
And time for sleep.
With this scene we are leaving A Day in a Child’s Life. A Apple Pie is (as the subtitle suggests) an old fashioned alphabet book. The idea behind the book from 1886 is simple – ‘adventures of an apple pie from A to Z’. Let’s start with a cover!
The same picture is available in black and white, suitable for some coloring projects.
Next letters follow…
You got the picture, right? We’ll skip next letters and make a shortcut to T:
And the final scene with all the unfriendly letters at the end of the alphabet:
All had a large slice and went off to bed! But before we do the same, we have to look at least one more Kate Greenaway’s masterpiece. This is the book about the Pied Piper of Hamelin. This tale is not very popular today because it can give nightmares to some children, but we can still enjoy the beautiful illustrations of Kate Greenaway:
Don’t be fooled by the beautiful scenery. Pied Piper of Hamelin is actually very horrifying story, based on the legend which explains massive deaths of children in Hamelin (Germany) in Middle Ages (probably second half of 13th century). There are many possible explanations, from plague (related with rats), colonization or crusade, but the story became most popular with the message: Keep your word or you will be punished. No wonder brothers Grimm were among the most excited about the story which is now best known in the form of fairy tale.
In the version illustrated by Kate Greenaway the story about Hamelin is told in verses written by Robert Browning. It was published in 1888.
Here is the summary:
Hamelin was infested by rats.
Then the piper came and played his flute. Rats followed him out of the city.
Rats vanished in the river and piper demanded his payment.
But when the problem was solved, the major didn’t want to keep his word…
Ah, the politicians, different times, same sort of people…
So this is the sad end of the story about the piper in Hamelin. And I hope I presented Kate Greenaway with at least some of her best illustrations.
I will be back.