Sunday 23 April 2017

Dolls' book published in human size

Elizabeth Clark from the Royal Collection places a miniature book made especially for Queen Mary's Dolls' House at Windsor Castle
Elizabeth Clark from the Royal Collection places a miniature book made especially for Queen Mary's Dolls' House at Windsor Castle

A tiny children's book created for a royal dolls' house is to be published - in human scale.

With pages scarcely bigger than a postage stamp and intricate drawings by a celebrated cartoonist, the miniature volume is a prized object in the Royal Collection.

But from next month youngsters everywhere will have the chance to read the story about a fairy called Joe Smith and his adventures when he falls out of fairyland and lands in London.

The hand-written book measures just 1.6 in (4cm) by 1.4in (3.5cm) and is one of 200 volumes in the miniature library of the dolls' house created for Queen Mary, consort of King George V, in 1922. The model, kept at Windsor Castle and designed by renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, is an aristocratic Edwardian home in miniature complete with fully furnished rooms, electricity, running water and lifts.

The book was created exclusively for the house by one of the foremost cartoonists of the day, Fougasse, real name Cyril Kenneth Bird. He went on to edit the satirical magazine Punch and is best known for his Careless Talk Costs Lives posters, drawn for the Government during the Second World War.

More than 170 authors are featured in tiny books for the house's library including Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edith Wharton.

In Fougasse's book, written in verse with illustrations, Joe Smith tries to convince disbelievers he is a fairy.

After a series of adventures, including a turn on the London stage and an attempt to become an artist, Joe decides that fairyland is a safer place to be and returns home.

Royal Collection publisher Jacky Colliss Harvey said: "This book is a miniature work of genius, full of sly wit and with Fougasse's unmistakable and charming illustrations. We are delighted to bring it to a wider audience as one of our new titles for children, although we are convinced it will appeal just as irresistibly to adults."

The hardback children's story J Smith by Fougasse is published by Walker Books in collaboration with Royal Collection Publications on May 3, priced £10.

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