Illustrating Books: Information on Boys' Fashions


Figure 1.--Burgess Sharrocks drew many of the original Secret Seven illustrations for Enid Blyton. Her 1950s drawings always had the children in traditional school uniforms. The boys generally wore their caps in schools scenes.

Book illustrations seem to have notably begun with the magnifcent medieval illuninated manuscripts. More mundane illustrations had to wait for the printing press and printed books. Illustrating early books was a problem because lithography only began to develop in the late 18th century. Even in the 19th century, books were commonluy illustrated with hand-drawn and colored illustrations or photgraphs laboiously added to the volume. In our modern era, inumeral illustrators have drawn lovely sketches for books and periodicals. These illustrations, while often idealized, add valuable information to advance our knowledge of boys clothing. In a way they are uniquely American, especially the illustrations associate with adverising. Some of the illustrators actually are infact artists and it is difficult to infact easily draw destinctions. Perhasps the best case in point is American illustrator Norman Rockwell. Illustrations are not as accurate as photographs, but they should not be ignored in any assessment of fashion history. Some like theillustrations to Mrs. Burnett's Little Lord Funtleroy have had enormous impact.

Importance

Some reader have suggested the use of illustrations, especially illustrations in children's books as a valuable potential sourc of information on children's fashions. Other HBC readers have asked why HBC has addressed the subject of illustrators. They are concerned about the potential inaccuracy of illustrators. HBC certainly agrees, that unlike actual photographs, some care needs to be taken on assessing illustrations. HBC believes, however, that these illustrations and illustrators are important because they provide an important view of childhood and childhood fashions. Our primary interest is that they provide clothing in context. Rather than just a static studio image, illutrations often show children involved in some activity, providing insights into the conventions for wearing specific garments. In addition the images show someone's view. In some case they are realistic depictions. In other instances they are idealized depictions. Even so, HBC considers idealized depictions of some interst. It is fascinating to see how contempraty observers think childhood should be and what children should wear. Not what adults think children should wear and what children want to war provide interesting insights into different historical periods.

Chronology

We are ot entirely sure about the history of illustrating books. Some ancient wirings were illustrated, such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Mayan Codices. As the writing systems were in part pictorial, the illustration was somewhat merged with the illustration. Our information here is limited. We are not sure abour Roman scrolls. I do not think they were illustrated, at least heavily so. The most renowned early illustrated books were the beautiful illuminated (illustrated) Bibles of the Medieval era. Perhaps the earliest and most beautiful were the Celtic (Irish) illuminated Bibles. The term illumination seems to reflect their beauty, they seemed to lighten up the Bible. Gold and silver paint were added to the colors. Books in the medieval period were expensive as they had to be copied by hand and these illuminated manuspripts which might be done on parchment were priceless. They were not available to most people who were at any rate illiterate. They were held by the very rich and important churches. This changed dramatically with inventioin of the printing press (15th century) whichich dramtically reduced the cost of books, making them much more accessable. The Protestant Revolution soon after changed attitudes toward reading. The Catholic Church had ebdevored to keep the Bile out of people's hands, fearing they could not be trusted to interpet it. One of Luther's first acts after posting the 95 Thesis, was tobtranslate the Bible into German so that the average person could read it (16th century). This meant of course that much more attention had to be given to education so most people could read--it was one of the central tenants of the Reformtion. And with the expansion of education, early educators soon concluded that children learned better, especially younger children, if there were illustrations mixed in with the text. John Newberry was an early publisher of books for teaching children (18th century). His books were not only designed for instruction, but also to be enjoyed. The use of illustrations through the 19th century was limited by still basic development of lithography. Randolph Caldecott (1846-86) significantly affected how llustrations wre used. The illustrations he used were not only pretty, but were desiged to advance the telling of the story. Kate Greenway was anoher early illustrtor of children's books, Improvenments in color printing at the turn of the 20th century led to te Golden Age of Illustration.

Individual Illustrators

HBC has collected quite a bit of information on illustrators who have drawn images of children over the years. The earliest recognized illustrator of children's images is probanly Kate Greenway and her classisal drawings. One of the first important Anmericam illustrators is Reginald Birch and his illustrations for Little Lord Fauntleroy. By the turn of the 20th century, advances in color lithograpy provided illistrators to present their work directly to the public. The result was some of the most beautiful illustrations of childhood ever produced--the Glden Age of Illustrtions. Some of the illustrators provie rather mundane drawings. Others illustrations provide wonderful insights into childhood and the clothes worn by children. We know most about American and English illustrators. Hoefully HBC reades will provide us information about important illustrators in their countries so we can broaden the scope of our assessment.

Cartoonists

We did not initially include caroonists with the illustrators listed here. Several HBC readers have suggested that cartoonists should be listed in both the illustrator and literary sections of HBC. Indeed cartoons do show clothing and fashion over time, although this varies with the style of the different cartoonists. We have gradually been persuaded of the merits of this suggestion. We have, however, decided to archive cartoonists, or graphic artists as they now like to becalled, separately from illustrators. This is primarily because cartoonists both draw and write. There illustrations are more basic than those of illustrators because of te nature of the medium. Thus the two disciplines, illustrating and cartooning, I think are sufficently different that they requite separate treatment.

Subjects

Some of the sujects that illustrators have concentrated on include:

Little Lord Fauntleroy

Little Lord Fauntleroy has been illustrated by a host of different illustrators. The first and best known is Reginal Birch.

Choirs

Choir boys have been a popular subject for illustrators. They are especially popular during the Christmas season and commonly featured on Christmas cards.

Scouts

Scouting has been one of the favorite topics of many illustrators. French Pierre Joubert and American Norman Rockwell are two of the best known Scouting illustrators..

Countries

Once HBC has collected a substantial list of illustrators, we will index them by country.

Publications

Some magazines are especially associated with contemprary illustrations. By the 1920s many of these magazines began rountinrly running photographs. Some like featured illustrations and photographs. The most famous American publication with illustrations is the Saturday Evening Post, in no small part because Norman Rockwell drew for the Post. There were of course many other illustarors who drew for the Post, as well as many other magazines and other publications of some impotance. Some of the other important American magazines included: Century, Collier's Weekly, Good Housekeepin, Ladies' Home Journal, Leslie's, Harper's, McClure's, Scribners, and Woman’s Home Companion. Other publications became notable for their photographs, especilly the London Illustrated News, Life, and Look. Some of these publications were specifically fashion publications. Others were publications which included fashion information or illustrations and photographs which indirectly illustrated fashion trends. There were also a variety of childrens publications.

Sources

Dalby, Richard, The Golden Age of Children's Book Illustration, New York, Gallery, 1991.

Horne, Alan, The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators, Suffolk, Antique Collector’s Club, 1994.

Mahoney, Bertha E. and Whitney, Elinor, Contemporary Illustrators of Children’s Books, The Book Shop for Boys and Girls, Boston, 1930.

Mahony, Bertha E., Illustrators of Children's Books 1744-1945, Boston: The Horn Book, 1947.

Peppin, Brigid, and Micklethwait, Lucy, Book Illustrators of the Twentieth Century, New York, Arco, 1984.











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Created: January 1, 2000
Last updated: 3:08 AM 4/13/2008