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Children's literature

The British Library holds one of the largest collections of English language children's books in the world. As well as books for home entertainment, with stories, nursery rhymes, fairy stories or verse, these include primers and readers, textbooks, prayer books, hymnals, courtesy books and alphabet books. There are also many simplified version of adult books, such as Bunyan's Pilgrim's progress, Swift's Gulliver's travels, and many versions of the Robinson Crusoe story. These can be traced in the Integrated Catalogue.

Books published in the United Kingdom and Ireland are received by legal deposit, and have been since the foundation of the library as part of the British Museum, but deposit was less rigorously enforced in the early years. Not all children's books thus received were catalogued on receipt. As children's books were published in increasing numbers at the end of the 19th century, groups of books were entered under the name of the publisher, and many anonymous picture books were not catalogued at all. These books have been recently catalogued and can be traced on the Integrated Catalogue. Readers using the online catalogues in the British Library Reading Rooms should search for them in the current catalogue: Humanities and social sciences books and periodicals 1975-. While many are compilations of stories and illustrations that were issued several times on bulky paper, there are examples of the work of some illustrators who are now attracting great interest among researchers and collectors. Publishers whose works have been added to the catalogue include Blackie, Cassell, Alf Cooke, Humphrey Milford, Henry Frowde and Hodder and Stoughton, Nelson, Partridge, Warne and Ward Lock. The most interesting are some movable books created by Lothar Meggendorfer, and distributed by H. Grevel, and some charming books by Louis Wain. Most children's books from these publishers, however, were catalogued at the time of receipt and entered in the pre-1975 catalogue.

Gallery of images from historic children's books
Historical survey of children's literature in the British Library
Children's literature: reference sources
Children's literature links
Previous exhibitions: Magic Pencil: Children's book illustration today
Featured authors: Clifton Bingham
Featured authors: Mrs H. C. Cradock
Featured authors: Mrs O. F. Walton
Featured illustrators: William Foster
Featured illustrators: Ernest Griset
Featured illustrators: Rosa Petherick


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