Rare and Beautiful : The Books of Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives


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The Mrs. Evan Noyes Collection of Children's Books

(Gift of Clara Noyes, 1989)

Charles Kingsley: The Water-Babies (1916)
Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), an eminent nineteenth-century theologian and historian, wrote in a variety of genres but typically always addressed the economic and social problems of Victorian England. The Water-Babies is an attempt to connect evolution, sanitation and spiritual growth through the story of little Tom, the chimney sweep who enters the world of the water-babies. First published in 1862, the book proved to be one of Kingsley's most popular titles, the first edition selling out within the year. It has remained in print ever since.

This edition is illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935), an American artist who was well known for her cover art for Good Housekeeping Magazine. Smith idealized her images of children, placing them in a serene and maternal world. The original drawings which she completed for The Water-Babies were among those which she considered to be her best work and she gave them to the Library of Congress. This was one of her best selling books.

The Water-Babies  

The Water-Babies 

Titlepage and Illustration from Charles Kingsley: The Water-Babies (1916), illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith


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Updated: 29 April 2004, RKB
Comments: speccoll@iupui.edu
URL: http://www.ulib.iupui.edu/special/digproj/noyes_ck.html

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