Dedicated to old Ladybird books - 1914 -1975

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History

What do I mean by ‘History’?  Actually a couple of different things.

When did Ladybird books begin?

Well it depends what you count as a Ladybird book.  The company behind them, Wills & Hepworth, started printing the occasional children’s book as long ago as 1914 – but these are very different from the books we associate with the brand.Books in the distinctive Ladybird format first appeared in 1940.  The next key date is 1972, when the company was sold at the height of its success.  Success gradually waned – although the decision to close down UK printing altogether in 1999 remains controversial.  On various blog posts here you will find parts of the story, which I’ll draw together some time soon.  In the meantime, here’s a brief summary

‘History’ too can refer to the biographies of the key players – especially the artists, so you’ll find a lot of information here.

It can also refer to the biggest series of Ladybird books, the History series, mainly written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney. Either way, you should find quite a lot of information in the posts below

Art, Artists, History

Is there a ‘Ladybird Style’?

There isn’t one ‘Ladybird’. The name means different things to different people. No one, (no – not even I) grew up in a house with every Ladybird book available. We may have had a few around the house and then…

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Bentalls
Artists, History, Society

In a Big Store

Part of the pleasure of re-reading the ‘People at Work’ books today is that, unlike so many Ladybirds which dealt with fiction, history or Nature – their stated aim was to show children contemporary, urban Britain. But when the contemporary…

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Art, Artists, History

John Berry

When in later life John Berry sat down to write his memoirs he gave it the working title ‘A Brush with Life’.  It was a good choice  to sum up the working life of an artist who created such sensitive,…

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History artwork
Artists, Events, History

An afternoon with John Kenney

Last week I spent an afternoon surrounded by the artwork of the Ladybird artist John Kenney.  I went to The MERL (Museum of English Rural Life) in Reading where the Special Collections are stored.  I’ve talked about MERL and the…

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