CHL 583 A (very) brief (and Euro-centric) history of Illustrated Texts
Week 1: CHL 583 Monday, May 4 introductions, syllabus, a few terms a brief history of picture books Wednesday, May 6 visual literacy: basic terms and concepts (a common vocabulary) we can use to understand and evaluate illustrated texts
But first, an even briefer history of Children’s Literature Influences that shaped children’s literature: • Changing constructions of childhood • Debates about the purpose of children’s texts • Literacy levels • Access to texts (social class, race, gender) • Printing technology
Woodcuts William Caxton was the first printer in Britain. In 1484, he printed an illustrated version of Aesop’s Fables. The book was not meant for children, but children read it and enjoyed it.
OrbisSensualiumPictus By J. A. Comenius (Czech) 1658: Printed in Nuremberg 1659: Printed in England Illustrations, Latin, and vernacular together in an encyclopedia meant to teach Latin.
OrbisSensualiumPictus Very, very expensive, and used in schools and in noble households. Designed to be part of a larger system of education where children were educated through their senses.
The New England Primer A similar text, meant to educate children, was published in the colonies (and later the U.S.) Puritans believed*: • everyone should be literate so they could read The Bible. • Children were born sinful and needed to be taught to lead good lives. * Note: I’m oversimplifying a bit. Puritans were actually quite complex people (but we can’t get into that much detail here . . . )
The New England Primer published from about the 1680s – 1830s Published by Benjamin Harris, New England printer.
John Locke (1632- 1704) • English philosopher whose theories of education dramatically influenced attitudes about education and about children. • These early illustrated education texts influenced Locke, who later advocated using illustrations to make education pleasurable. • In his “Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” (1690) Locke argued that intelligence is not innate, but, instead, people learn from experience. • Locke’s work, influenced writers and publishers . . .
1744: Two major picture books John Newbery’s A Little Pretty Pocketbook Mary Cooper’s Tommy Thumb’s Pocket Song Book
Chapbooks:16th – 19th Century Affordable picture books (pamphlets) for the masses that were sold by street peddlers for pennies. Poorly reproduced on inexpensive paper—illustrations, ballads, folktales, poems, and religious texts “borrowed” by printers. Perfect for the lower classes and for young readers, who loved them.
William Blake Songs of Innocence (1789) Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794)
Blake produced very few of these copper-engraved and hand-tinted books of poems that were rarely seen or read by children.
Technology improving . . . Early 1800s Thomas Bewick’s illustrated version of Aesop’s Fables (1818)
Color images • In the early 1800s color still had to be applied by hand, often by children laboring in print shops. • By the mid 1880s, it became easier and cheaper to print color images. • By the later 1880s, advances in printing technology contributed to a “Golden Age” in the illustration of children’s books.
The Big Three • Walter Crane, Kate Greenaway, and RandolfCaledcott emerged as the major illustrators of the late 1880s. • They are known for moving the art of illustration forward by creating rich works of art that added to the words being illustrated by moving narratives forward or adding layers of meaning.
Walter Crane (1845-1915) • Influenced by Blake and by Japanese prints • Started illustrating picture books in 1863 • Between 1869 and 1876, illustrated 35 picture books, including versions of “Cinderella,” “The Frog Prince,” and “Jack and the Bean Stalk.” • His work was so popular that his publishers created the Walter Crane’s Toy Books series.
Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) • Started her career illustrating greeting cards • She designed a version of Mother Goose (1881) • Her work is known for her illustrations of flowers, landscapes, and fashions • These pastoral images were particularly popular with people living in an increasingly industrial Victorian culture.
Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) • Illustrated a variety of nursery rhymes and books of nonsense verse. • Known for his ability to capture movement in his illustrations, which often added witty commentary to the texts being illustrated.
By the late 1800s/early 1900s • Children in the growing middle classes in Britain, the U.S., and Europe would most likely have owned several illustrated books. • It was common for printers to publish elaborate gift books (usually illustrated fairy tales) that came out in time to be given as Christmas gifts.
Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) Most famous for helping to develop the picture story book. Best known for the Peter Rabbit series of books.
Struwwelpeterby Heinrich Hoffman Published in 1845 in Germany Hoffman was a physician in Frankfort, Germany who wanted to create a playful text for children. He wrote and illustrated Struwwelpeter as a Christmas gift for his 3-year-old son. It was a hugely popular book that was quickly translated and published across Europe.
The Modern Picture Book • As technology improved and printing became more inexpensive, writers and artists started to experiment, creating innovative works of art combining text with image.
Wanda Gag (1893-1946) American illustrator best known for her famous book, Millions of Cats (1928).
Dr. Seuss (1904 – 1991) (Theodore Seuss Geisel) Seuss, who started his career as a political cartoonist, was best known for books dealing with social issues (The Lorax) and for playful early readers (Hop on Pop) that made learning to read lively fun.
Harold and the Purple Crayon, 1955 By Crockett Johnson (1906 – 1975)
Influences • Picture books and illustrated texts were, and continue to be, influenced by other forms of visual media: • Comic strips • Comic books • Film • television
Contemporary Picture “Books” • Still sites of innovation and creativity • Technological advances: pop-up books, e-books, on-line texts, visual narratives that combine a variety of genres: • http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=187275435351&h=Woqwg&u=LfCBI&ref=mf