Sunday, 28 August 2011

The illustrations of Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone


I’ve been busy cataloguing a collection of books illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. The cataloguing process is taking far longer than it should because I keep stopping to ooh and ahh over the beautiful illustrations.

Janet and Anne are probably best remembered for their illustrations for Dodie Smith’s classic novel, The hundred and one Dalmatians, but they illustrated literally dozens if not hundreds of books.

The twins worked on every picture together, passing illustrations backwards and forwards until both were satisfied, Janet concentrated on animals while Anne was the expert on period costume. Early commissions included editions of Heidi, Gulliver’s Travels and the water babies, all for the Heirloom Library.

Janet and Anne were also involved in a number of programmes for television these included Charlie the Cat, the Flower Pot Men, Tai Lu, Andy Pandy and the adventures of the cowboy, Ross Salmon. All of these produced spin-off publications.


Other early work included new illustrations for Struwwelpeter (1950), Enid Blyton’s Tales of Ancient Greece (1951), and This Land of Kings written by Ida Foulis (1954). Their best known book, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, appeared two years later. It might be expected that this would have brought them fame and fortune. But it did neither. In return for sixty drawings they received the unbelievable sum of £100 and virtually no artistic credit. 

Other markets for illustrators of children’s books at that time were the weekly comics, such as Girl, Eagle, Parent and Robin. They also worked on designs for Christmas cards and illustrated a number of large, brightly coloured gift books, mainly published by Dean. Their full-page illustrations surround nursery rhymes, fairy tales or children's prayers and were very reminiscent of artists like Hilda Boswell.


Janet died in an accident in 1979, although devastated by the loss, Anne still found the strength to continue alone. She learned how to draw the animals that Janet specialised in, becoming so adept that she was elected a Member of the Society of Equestrian Artists. Anne continued to work until two days before her own death on the 25th May, 1998.

If you would like to see more books by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone click here

Update April 2014; Several people have asked for a list of all books illustrated by Janet & Anne, so I've included a list on my website here.  There are around 200 books listed, but if you know of any more, please leave a comment on this blog post, and I will update the list.



I adore these illustrations and would be interested to hear what others think about them. Please feel free to leave a comment - and pop back to read my replies.

55 comments:

  1. Boy, some of these I remember so well. Wonderful blog today.

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  2. barbaraannefisher31 August 2011 07:28

    They bring back lots of memories for me too. I love them because they are so pretty.

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  3. I've just come across two books I forgot I had but loved when I was younger illustrated by the sisters today - one of fairy tales and one of nursery rhymes. They are so beautiful I can't stop paging through them and studying the incredible detail. Thanks so much for providing all this information - I really enjoyed reading your post.
    Sharon

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  4. I have been collecting books illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone for years. I have nearly all of them now, though I am still looking for The Emperor's new Clothes. I used the Book Collector magazine no. 204 as a guide to the books they have illustrated. I'm glad there are other people out there that enjoy their illustrations. Anne

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  5. barbaraannefisher5 December 2011 19:01

    Hello Anne, two of my favourite books when I was growing up were Charlie the cat, and the 101 Dalmatians both illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnston. I fell in love with the artwork then and love it still. I’ve never seen a copy of The Emperor’s new clothes illustrated by them but I will be looking for one now!

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  6. I was wondering if you have come across a book illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone that includes the Three Little Men in the Wood. I have a memory of a fairy tale book that closely resembles their style of illustration. Please let me know, I want to get the book for my sisters baby shower in a few months. Thank you!!

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  7. barbaraannefisher8 March 2012 08:49

    Hello Loriana20,
    I believe the three little men in the wood is a German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. A version of the tale appears in a book of dwarfs (1964) by Ruth Manning-Sanders. It's also included in my world of fairy tales by Jane Carruth and Andrew Lang’s red fairy book.

    Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone provided the illustrations for Tales from the Brothers Grimm (I don’t know the publisher or the date), and New tales from Grimm translated by Ruth Michaelis-Jena (published by Chambers, 1960), but I don’t know if three little men in the wood was in either book.

    You need to find a bookseller with one or both books so that you can ask them to check the titles in each book. There is a bookSleuth forum where you could try asking the question, so will email details to you.

    I hope the above is of some help.

    If you don't get my email please email me at books(at)marchhousebooks(dot)com and I will forward the details to you.
    Barbara

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  8. I have checked all my Janet & Anne Grahame books and can't find that particular story in any of them. I have also checked my large collection of other fairy story books and the only one I could find with "Three little men of the Forest" is in one called Tales from Grimm Anderson & Perrault, Retold by Jane Carruth. It is illustrated but does not credit who by. Published in 1976 by Purnell books and reprinted in 1988 by Macdonald and Co ltd under the Black Cat imprint. Hope that helps.

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  9. barbaraannefisher9 March 2012 19:21

    Dear Anne,
    Thank you so much for the taking the time to check your collection. I will pass the information on to Loriana20. It really was most kind of you to do that. Best wishes Barbara.

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  10. Thank you ever so much Anne!! I appreciate it. I was wondering if could post the picture from The three little men of the forest for me. I would appreciate it very much! I have beautiful illustration of the princess in the book picking strawberries in the snow. If memory serves me well it is absolutely beautiful but I cannot locate it anywhere. Thank you again for taking the time out for me! -Lori

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  11. I have been collecting books by Anne and Janet Grahame Johnstone since I was a little girl. I still drool over the exquisite illustrations in each book. I have a list of all their books that they illustrated should you need it. I am so pleased that there are others preserving their work and collecting their books.

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    1. I would really appreciate a list of all the books they have illustrated. I keep searching online for a list and cannot find one. Thank you in advance. mama24ofu@cox.net

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    2. Hi Marypiano2, I replied to Janevago saying I would love a copy of his/her list but did not get a reply so set about creating a list myself. You will find it at my March House Books website listed under articles or just click this link http://www.marchhousebooks.com/?page=shop/disp&pid=page_JandAGJ
      Barbara

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    3. Barbara, thank you for answering me and I'll try out the link. I am looking for a book that I think they may have illustrated. I bought it in 1975, but it was on sale as an older book. It was a fairly large book with lots and lots of colorful pictures of each rhyme. I'm pretty sure that the name said it was rhymes and verses. It was a royal blue color with pictures of some of the rhymes on the cover; the cow jumping over the moon was in the upper right corner. It was my daughter's book and burned in a house fire when she was about 10. I have searched for it online but can't find it. I am wanting to buy a copy of it.... but don't even know what the name was. I would appreciate your help.

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    4. Hello, I can think of two books with covers like that - Mother Hubbard’s nursery rhyme book or Hey, Diddle Diddle Nursery Rhymes but they were both illustrated by Hilda Boswell. Are you sure the one you are looking for was illustrated by Janet & Anne? If you let me have your email address, I will send you a scan of the front covers of the Hilda Boswell books. If nothing else it will rule them out. If you go to the right-hand column of this blog, you will find an ‘email me’ button, just send me a quick email, and I will email the scans back. Best wishes Barbara

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  12. barbaraannefisher27 March 2012 22:33

    Hello there, thanks for your comment. I love their illustrations, there is something magical about them.
    I do have a list that was published in the Book and Magazine collector, but I don’t know how accurate it is or how many titles might be missing. If you don’t mind sharing your list, I could include it on the blog as a checklist for other collectors. I could create a static page so that it was available to view just by clicking on a tab. I would be sure to credit the list to you.
    My email is books (at) marchhousebooks (dot) com Thanks again, Barbara

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  13. Glad to have found your blog! Love the Johnstones - great post.
    www.vintagebooksfortheveryyoung.blogspot.com

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  14. barbaraannefisher20 August 2012 16:08

    Hello Leanne, thanks for calling in. This has been a popular post, I think there are lots of Anne & Janet fans.

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  15. Did Anne and Janet Grahame Johnstone ever illustrate The 12 ~Dancing Princesses. My daughter remembers a book with beautiful illustrations but we can't find it.

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  16. barbaraannefisher15 November 2012 07:03

    Hello Pat, Hello Pat, I’ve never seen it illustrated by Janet and Anne, but they did illustrate a lot of fairy tales so it is possible. Kay Nielsen did a beautiful version as did Errol Le Cain. I don’t know how old your daughter is, but I would think the Le Cain version might be the one she remembers. It was published around 1978, and the drawings are fairly similar to J&AGJ. You can see some of the illustrations on this site http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/?p=454 Barbara

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  17. Kendall Mackenzie11 December 2012 01:27

    Hi Barbara, as I child I owned a book of fairy stories illustrated by these brilliant women and unfortunately I leant it to someone to recreate a painting of one for my childs bedroom. She left the company and I lost contact, and my book. I have managed to pick up two others at second hand book stores. I adore their illustrations. They left a lasting impression on me. The picture above from Sleeping Beauty was in the book I lost. Thank you for this page.

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  18. Hi I have a book Hillary's Tune signed by Anne & Janet in super condition and very rare

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  19. Stella Collins2 January 2013 14:45

    I have loved the work of Anne & Janet since I bought a Nursery Ryhme book illustrated by them 40 years ago for my children. I was lucky enough to get to know Anne in the last couple of years of her life and loved to listen to her tell me the tales of the different animals used in their drawings, i.e. the dog from over the road, the cat from next door. Anne was a petite lady who to me looked just like the characters she drew, her ruffled wind swept hair and tiny features. I now have about 40 of their books and am lucky to have some signed by them both, but the ones I treasure are the ones that Anne signed for me, especially the last one she gave me which was ' A Year of Poetry'. I also have a Christmas card that Anne gave me Christmas 97 which is very special to me. I feeel so priveledged to have got to meet the person who's work I had admired for so many years.
    Stella Collins

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  20. barbaraannefisher9 January 2013 11:55

    Hello Stella,
    Thank you for leaving such an interesting comment. I too love the work of Anne & Janet but was never lucky enough to know them. I envy you your collection, especially the signed editions. Best wishes Barbara.

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  21. barbaraannefisher9 January 2013 11:56

    Hi, thanks for your comment. I've never come across a copy of Hillary's Tune so would love to know more about it if you have the time.

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  22. barbaraannefisher9 January 2013 11:59

    Hello Kendall, thank you for leaving a comment. Sorry for the delay in replying I've been visiting family in Australia. You may be able to find a copy of the book you lost on my website www.marchhousebooks.com or you could try Abebooks.com where lots of dealers list their stock. I'm glad you enjoy my post. Best wishes Barbara

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  23. Hi we got the book from someone in the USA Hilary's Tune is by Vivien Ellis and illustrated by Janet & Anne in 1960. It is very rare to have both their signatures and we have sent it away to be apraised for auction as the proceeds will be going to help our Orphans and Vulnerable children project in South Sudan. We are told it could be worth about £1,000 which would help the programme immensly.

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  24. Someone in Australia was selling a copy on Ebay just recently.

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  25. Just got a copy of The Struwwelpeter 1st edition by the Johnstone's brilliant illustrations.

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  26. barbaraannefisher9 January 2013 17:39

    Thanks for the extra information - I will be keeping a look out for a copy now. Please let me know if/when your copy goes to auction - I might be tempted to have a bid. Do you have a website/blog?

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  27. barbaraannefisher9 January 2013 17:40

    It sounds wonderful - how exciting.

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  28. Hi currently our charity website is being upgraded but the address is http://www.thedignityproject.org.uk there is a link on it to take you to our Ebay profile and our book sales. The Hilary's tune is currrently listed for £1,000 while we await the professional apraiser's valuation. If the book goes to public auction rather than virtual auction(Ebay) it will be sold in Edinburgh at Lyon & Turnbull sales in February. I will post a link nearer the time if not sold before.

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  29. barbaraannefisher13 January 2013 11:44

    Thanks for all the extra information. I've been over to eBay for a look - it's lovely but sadly more than I can afford. Good luck with the auction, I hope you do well.

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  30. Hi thanks for the reply Lyon & Turnbull think that it is very rare to find both their signatures on the book, but suggest Dominic Winter auctions which we will look at in the mean time we will leave it on ebay.

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  31. barbaraannefisher13 January 2013 14:30

    I agree about Dominic Winter. They hold some really good auctions where lots of dealers (including me) buy stock.

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  32. I first fell in love with the twin's illustrations of Greek mythology in Finding Out magazine. I know my sister and I had a book of these and hope to goodness she or my parents still have it. I am surprised and delighted to discover that they were also responsible for illustrating several of my other favourite childhood books.

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  33. barbaraannefisher21 January 2013 13:49

    Hello Sharon, thanks for calling in and leaving a comment..
    I really had no idea just how many books they illustrated but the more I look into it the more I find. My favourite when I was growing up (with their illustrations) was the one hundred and one Dalmatians written by Doddie Smith. I also had a nursery rhyme book, but I can’t remember which one.

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  34. They illustrated over 200 books

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  35. barbaraannefisher21 January 2013 16:47

    Pretty amazing when you think about it!

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  36. Just been given three Dufex framed Janet & Anne Johnstone prints to sell for our charity http://www.thedignityproject.org.uk (Raising funds for 400+ orphans in South Sudan) we put them on Ebay under our Bazasbooks label selling them for £30 each. Hans Andersen's Dream, Little boy fishing, and a fairy with a mouse & a mole.

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  37. Michelledeavison8 March 2013 09:27

    As a child my mum always used to buy me Dean books with their beautiful illustrations. I had a large amount which kept. Sadly they were all lost in a flood at my home. It is lovely to see these images here. I used to read these books for hours and used to try and copy the pictures. I remember really loving an illustration for the rhyme My mother said I never should play with the gypsies in the wood, just mesmerising.

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  38. barbaraannefisher8 March 2013 22:25

    Hi Michelle, I’m so sad to hear you lost all your books I can just imagine how heartbreaking that must have been. I think the rhyme you are referring to was in a 1977 edition of Dean’s Mother Goose Book of Rhymes, illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. You might be able to find a copy online but be sure to check with the booksellers before thinking about purchasing a copy– just in case I’ve got that wrong.

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  39. Hi Barbara,

    I'm a young, sort-of collector and just curious how many books you know of in circulation and their titles? I'm just having trouble finding out as I live Australia.

    Kind Regards and great entry!
    Jessica

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    1. Hello Jessica,

      Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Just so that I understand your question – is it books by Janet and Anne you are interested in finding out about or just books in general?

      If it is Janet and Anne, I can send you a list of all the titles I’m aware of but to do so on here would take up a lot of space. If you like to email me (using the email me button in the right hand column) I will send you a reply with as much detail as I have.

      Best wishes, Barbara.

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    2. Jessica I've just included a page on my website to show all the Janet & Anne books that I've been able to find out about - this is the link

      http://www.marchhousebooks.com/?page=shop/disp&pid=page_PookieNew
      I hope you find it helpful, Barbara.

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    3. I have a blog that I just started called Magical Vintage Children's Books, please feel free to check it out, soon I'll be adding entries on the Johnstone sisters and my book collection!

      http://magicalvintagechildrensbooks.blogspot.com.au/

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  40. Hi there, thanks for the link. I'm going over for a visit now. Barbara

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  41. Help please! I had the 1977 Deans Book of Fairy Tales as a child and just bought it off of eBay. Much to my dismay, The Little Match Girl is not in this edition. I was just sure it was. Do you know which book it is in? That's the biggest reason I purchased the book I did.

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    1. Hello there, the little match girl is in the Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone’s gift book of Hans Christian Andersen Fairy tales published by Dean in 1975. It may be in more of their books, but this is the only one I know of. Hope this helps, Best wishes, Barbara.

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    2. Thank you SO much. Looks like another ebay bid :)

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    3. Best of luck, I hope you find a copy. Barbara

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  42. I have been looking for the 1965 Deans Gift Book of Nursery Rhymes for so long ... if any one has one to sell??????

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    1. Hi Yvonne, have you checked on abebooks.com (or .co.uk) hundreds of dealers (including me) sell on the site so there just might be one. Best of luck with your search, Barbara

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  43. My copy of the Gilbert books published by Nelson I have PIRATES and MIKADO as having been published in 1965, the other four in 1966. I note that on your list you have them all as 1966. There are a couple of differences. The earlier two have the melody lines of two of the songs as flyleaves, the subsequent ones do not. I would love to know more about their connection with the world of Gilbert and Sullivan.

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    1. Thanks so much for the information I’ve updated the list accordingly. I’ve tried to gather as many titles and dates as I can but don’t pretend to be an expert so any help is always gratefully received.
      There was an excellent article about the sisters in the Book and Magazine collector (partly reproduced at Wikipedia), I was hoping there would be a mention of their connection with Gilbert and Sullivan in the article but sadly not.
      Thanks again, Barbara.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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