The Stamp and Coin Place Blog: connecting the past and present of stamp and coin collecting, and looking to the future.

Kate Greenaway, Famous Children’s Book Illustrator

The pied piper and his followers by Kate Greenaway

From The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning.

Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) illustrated and wrote children’s books in the 19th century. Among Randolph Caldecott and Walter Crane, she’s considered one of the best illustrators of her time.

Greenaway’s parents encouraged her artistic interests and she had won a number of awards by age seventeen, thus cementing her successful future career.

Greenaway illustrated over 30 books. Most of her illustrations include happy boys and girls dressed in Regency and late eighteenth century fashions, out enjoying themselves in nature. Their clothes, though inspired by those eras, were all Greenaway’s own designs. They gained popularity even among fashion circles for their charming nostalgia. The company Liberty of London even used Greenaway’s designs as inspiration for actual clothes.

Polly by Kate Greenaway

“Polly”

During her career, Greenaway’s fan base extended far beyond her home country of England, including a large fan base in America.

She even got a medal named for her. In 1955 the Kate Greenaway Medal was established for exceptional illustrations in children’s books – not to be confused with the Caldecott Medal, which honors children’s picture books as a whole.

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This particular book by Greenaway, titled Ring-Round-A-Rosy, is done in the typical style of Greenaway’s, showing cheerful children playing and enjoying nature. The book’s publisher is The Saalfield Publishing Company, and this edition is a part of their rare muslin books, built to last through the wear and tear of young readers.

Many of the books that Greenaway illustrated were perfect for young readers, but their timelessness appeals to adults as well, and her illustrations still charm today.

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