Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Found Her in Special Collections: Cinderella

Although the tale of Cinderella has existed in some form or another for centuries, the version most commonly known today was written by Charles Perrault in 1697. This version, complete with enchanted pumpkins and glass slippers, was the one that Walt Disney brought to life in his 1950 animated film. Perrault’s story was written for the French literary salons during the reign of Louis XIV, a time when fairy tales were in style among the aristocratic elite. Since then, his story has been reprinted countless times, often accompanied by colorful illustrations. The Mount Holyoke Special Collections is home to several editions of this classic story; everything from small, illustrated pamphlets to gilded tomes.

Cinderella and the little glass slipper, Fairy moonbeam’s series (1870)
Among the earliest versions of Cinderella that can be found in Special Collections is this small pamphlet. Fairy Moonbeam’s series was part of a collection of “six cent picture books,” a price that would have made them widely available at the time.


Contes de Perrault, retold by Kathleen Fitzgerald, illustrated by Margaret Tarrant
This collection of fairy tales first appeared in 1910 and is a lovely example of illustrations from this time. Her bright illustrations were done largely with watercolor and ink, a style that was popular during this period.

The sleeping beauty and other fairy tales from the old French, retold by Arthur Quiller-Couch and illustrated by Edmund Dulac (1910)
The period between the beginning of the 20th century and the First World War is considered the golden age of children’s literature. Many deluxe editions of fairy tales, like the one pictured below, were published during this time. Edmund Dulac, one of the most prominent illustrators of this period, illustrated several lavish fairy tale collections. The war brought an end to this kind of work however, making way for more modest renditions of children’s stories.

Cinderella, retold by C.S Evans and illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1919)
Although the First World War had curbed the public’s desire for finely crafted collections of fairy tales, this colorful picture book was published just after the war ended. In this book, and in its companion Sleeping Beauty (which is also part of Mount Holyoke’s collection), Rackham began to experiment with silhouettes as opposed to his usual pen and watercolor illustrations.

Cinderella, illustrated by Helen Sewell (1934)
Perhaps best known for her illustration of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie, Sewell’s bold and simple lines departed from the intricate illustrations of the pre-war period.

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