Ladybird Books Exhibition News

Ladybird in Focus: Allen W. Seaby

The first Ladybird in Focus exhibit at the Ladybird Gallery spotlighting Allen W. Seaby. Image courtesy Ladybird Books

We’ve had news of a number of exhibtions featuring art published by Ladybird Books from the publisher who, in addition to expanding their Ladybird Books for Grown Ups range, have also produced A Ladybird Book: ABC and A Ladybird Book: 123 featuring classic artwork.

These titles will be followed up next year by board books and new picture books featuring animals and vehicles and complement the recently-released ABC and Cinderella colouring books.

On 19th October 2016, The Ladybird Gallery opened within the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading. The Gallery is the UK’s first space dedicated to the permanent exhibition of the Ladybird Archive.

Cared for by the University of Reading’s Special Collections Service, the archive contains over 700 boxes of original artwork, books, documentation and proofs. The Ladybird Gallery explores the history and development of the publishing phenomenon.

Using original artwork, the display charts the story of Ladybird’s iconic book design and celebrates the series’ breadth – from early print runs in 1915, through to the golden age of the 1950s-70s.

Ladybird Gallery Wall of Books. Image courtesy Ladybird Books

Ladybird Gallery Wall of Books. Image courtesy Ladybird Books

The wall of books features over 150 titles and spans 50 years of children’s literature.

On rotating display, Ladybird in Focus will interrogate the work of a specific artist, highlight a favourite edition or look closer at the scope of a series.

The inaugural in Focus case display shares the work of artist Allen W. Seaby, a professor of Fine Art at Reading in the late nineteenth century and later created a set of exquisite watercolours to illustrate British Birds & their Nests.

The Ladybird Gallery has been generously funded by Ladybird Books Ltd, part of the Penguin Random House group of companies and, like The Museum of English Rural Life, is free to visit.

• The museum and galleries is at the University of Reading, Redlands Road, Reading RG1 5EX and open from Tuesday-Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm and from 10.00am – 4.00pm on weekends. Web:

Art from An Adventure in History: Charles Dickens. Image courtesy Ladybird Books

Art from An Adventure in History: Charles Dickens. Image courtesy Ladybird Books

The original gouache-on-board illustrations produced for one of the classic Ladybird books of the 1960s will be on display in a new exhibition at the Dickens Museum in London from 30th November.

The Ladybird Life of Dickens: An Illustrated Adventure will present twenty-four illustrations by English artist (and Thomas the Tank Engine illustrator) John Kenney (1911-1972), alongside the words of English author and playwright Lawrence du Garde Peach (1890-1974), which accompanied them in the 1965 Ladybird book, An Adventure in History: Charles Dickens, published in 1965.

The book was one of 27 celebrated collaborations between the Ladybird ‘dream team’ of Kenney and Peach, which began in 1956. They used a highly successful framework: naming the figure, making a distilled statement about the significance of their story, and building the book around that.

• The exhibition opens this week, on Wednesday 30th November 2016 and runs until 16th April 2017 at the Dickens Museum. Doughty Street, London. For more information on the Museum and to book tickets visit

Well Loved Tales: The Gingerbread Man. Image courtesy Ladybird Books

Well Loved Tales: The Gingerbread Man. Image courtesy Ladybird Books

Remembering the Messel family tradition of giving books to children at Christmas, Nymans, a National Trust property in Hayward’s Heath, West Sussex, takes a nostalgic look at Ladybird’s evocative book illustrations, with original illustrations from some of the Well Loved Tales editions.

Published by Ladybird between 1964 and the early 1990s, all written by Vera Southgate, the early books featuring art by Eric Winter and Robert Lumley (and one by Capaldi), the Well Loved Tales series were based on stories by Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault, alongside a number of traditional English folk tales such as “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “The Three Little Pigs”. In all, 32 titles were published in this series, with another 16 added during the 1980s. Titles in the series were translated into many different languages including Arabic, German and French. Eventually sales in the series sold upwards of 80 million copies worldwide.

In addition to the exhibition, you can join the themed trail for younger visitors to discover more about the stories behind some of the plants and wildlife that can be seen at this time of year.

• The exhibition, open now, will run until 6th January 2017 at Nymans, Handcross, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6EB. For more information about Nymans, and the exhibition and activities, visit

There’s more on the Well Loved Tales books here on The Wee Web site devoted to Ladybird Books

• Official Ladybird Books site:

All art featured copyright Ladybird Books Ltd.

Categories: Art and Illustration, downthetubes News, Events, Exhibitions, Other Worlds

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  1. Frank Hampson’s Ladybird Books art for sale  |

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