Dedicated to old Ladybird books - 1914 -1975

The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Artists: an exhibition

The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Artists

The exhibition is next on in Basingstoke, spring 2020

(The video below shows part of the deinstallation from New Walk Museum in Leicester – where the exhibition proved to be one of their most successful ever exhibitions.

Next on:

The Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery, Basingstoke – from 15th July – 17th October 2020.

To put safety first, there will be a one-way route around the exhibition and numbers will be limited.   It’s a free exhibition but tickets need to be bought online.  There will be no ‘handling’ section at this outing of the exhibition – you will not be able to browse through vintage Ladybird books this time – but otherwise, this should be the show you would hope to see.

The blurb

Uncover the story of the talented artists who illustrated Ladybird books for more than 30 years.
This beautiful and colourful exhibition puts on display an unparalleled collection of books, original artwork and artefacts and shows how the numerous, talented Ladybird illustrators played such an enormous role in the extraordinary success of the company in the 20th century.
Tracing the interconnected work of these artists, the Ladybird story itself is recounted over its ‘golden years’ – 1940 to 1975. Visually rich and varied, the exhibition will evoke many memories of childhood.
It is curated by Ladybird expert and enthusiast Helen Day, who has spent more than 20 years researching the company and collecting items.
The exhibition is supported by a variety of family activities, including a make-your-own Ladybird book, Ladybird gallery trail and lots and lots of vintage books to browse and share.


What is the story behind the Ladybird Artists exhibition, which began in Canterbury in June 2018?

The more I research the history of the original Ladybird Books brand, the more strongly I feel that it encapsulates so much of the history of the 20th century.  There were many different factors behind Ladybird books’ phenomenal success in the 1950s – 80s but as Ladybird books were essentially picture books, it could be said that their success rested largely with the success of the artwork in attracting and engaging readers.   But who were these artists?  Are they known for other work?   What was the context in which they were illustrating?   Who were the models for the pictures and what were the real locations?  These are some of the questions  that the exhibition explores – and in the process, it recounts the fascinating story of the little Loughborough print business which became a giant in children’s publishing.


Basingstoke: summer 2020

Ayr: winter 2020 – February 2021

Gloucester: – Summer 2021


Great Yarmouth – Winter 2021 – Spring 2022

Birkenhead – 2022

Visitor numbers

  • Newbury Corn Exchange, The Base – 20th Sept – 15th December 2019
  • Leicester New Walk Museum – 13th July 2019 – 1st Sepember 2019
  • The exhibition turned out to be on of Leicester New Walk’s most successful exhibitions with (in a short run of only 7 weeks)a total attendance of 31,043
    Average per week:          4,258Average per day:              609
  • The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge 9th June – 23rd Sept 1918   Final visitor numbers to the exhibition: 18,146


Firstly, here’s a brief video made by ITV Kent:

Below is a snapshot of images from the Canterbury exhibition – to give you a flavour


The nostalgic aspect of the exhibition had a powerful effect – on staff as well as on the visiting public!

message board with comments

The message board invited people to talk about their favourite Ladybird book but …

The reception of visitors to the exhibition has been amazing and universally positive.  Donations to the exhibition were significantly up over the period and the comments board was filled as fast as it was cleared of enthusiastic responses.

Completed comment cards

… the response was unexpectedly enthusiastic and varied – and many took it as an opportunity to say nice things about the exhibition

Comments on social media were also abundent and enthusiastic.  Here is a sample.

Media coverage

BBC  News


ITV Meridian

Kent Life magazine

BBC Radio Kent (two programmes)

Local newspapers (3 features)

More Information

Touring Exhibition Group website

Ladybird Artists exhibition facebook page