Monday, 13 August 2012

Dorothy M. Wheeler

Image courtesy of the Enid Blyton Society

Image courtesy of the Enid Blyton Society

I've always been interested in children's illustrators and my all time favourite will always be Margaret Tarrant. However, Dorothy M Wheeler is a recent discovery and her illustrations of Enid Blyton’s books are adorable. The large image above is her cover for The Folk of the Faraway Tree and I remember reading this for the first time when I was about seven or eight and stuck in bed with measles. It is a story bursting with silliness and magic but essentially about friendship and learning to give second chances. The copy I still have is a much more garish [yet lovely] 1960s edition but I do love Wheeler’s version and [ahem!] the real reason for this post is perched halfway up the tree in all his bushy tailed GLORY. I remember in the book that the red squirrel’s job was to collect all the cushions from the foot of the slide [at the base of the tree] in a big basket and carry them back up to the top so everyone could use them to slide down – the slide spiralled down through the inside of the tree trunk. Well, I love him to bits and also love that Wheeler popped little squirrels into quite a lot of her pictures [see utterly cute example] so watch this space as I may well post more of her squirrel work J

Monday, 6 August 2012

We heart Manchester :-)

On Wednesday 25th July the Library enjoyed a day out in Manchester where we visited two iconic libraries: John Rylands and Chetham's. We toured the amazing cathedral like John Rylands Library first; one of the world’s finest collections of rare books and manuscripts. Established in 1889 by the textile entrepreneur John Rylands, it did not open to public readers until 1900 as the building was 10 years in construction [designed by the architect, Basil Champneys].  It became part of the University of Manchester in 1972 and therefore has a busy and vibrant atmosphere which creates a fascinating juxtaposition with the striking gothic architecture.

After partaking of a most enjoyable lunch [at The People's History Museum] we then went on to Chetham’s. Founded in 1653, it is the oldest surviving public library in Britain and the building is older still, built in 1421 to accommodate a college of priests it remains one of the most complete medieval complexes to survive in the north west of England. We had the foresight to book a tour, and amongst the historical facts there was also a little magical fiction [?] in the tale of a burn mark on a table reputed to be the cloven-hoof print of the devil conjured up by John Dee during his Wardenship of the College in 1595.

Links were forged and a great day was had by all despite a freezing cold train on the way there and a boiling hot one on the way back!

John Rylands photographs first:

One of the finest examples of neo-gothic architecture in Europe

Reading space

Statue of John Rylands - founder of library and Manchester's first multi-millionaire

Window detail

Where old meets new: the red brick of the original building coming through in to the new wing

Main view of library showing temporary exhibition cases

...and now Chetham's

Our group [on the right] trouping in next to water sculpture

Medieval staircase and leaded window

Show and tell with Librarian Michael Powell
A "chained" library comissioned by Humphrey Chetham [1580-1653] - five of these were produced and placed in local churches 

Now called the Audit Room but originally this would have been allocated as the Warden's Room

Table [in the Audit Room] with mysterious burn mark...
 Cloven hoof print? You make your minds up :-)