Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Book of the Week; Hilda Boswell's Omnibus a Treasury of Favourites

This beautiful book is the work of the accomplished artist Hilda Boswell (1903–1976). Hilda was born in London on the 8th October, 1903. The daughter of an architect she studied at the Hornsey School of art and later the Regent Street Polytechnic. Working mostly in watercolour, she produced extremely detailed illustrations for her own work and that of other authors.

Hilda Boswell’s Omnibus, features a collection of best-loved nursery rhymes, fairy tales, stories, poems and verses. 

I wish I lived in a caravan, with a horse to drive, like a pedlar man!
Where he comes from nobody knows, or where he goes to, but on he goes.
His caravan has windows too, and a chimney of tin that the smoke comes through;
he has a wife, with a baby brown, and they go riding from town to town.

~From A Treasury of Favourite Nursery Rhymes ~

In winter I get up at night and dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see the birds still hopping on the tree,
or hear the grown-up people's feet, still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you, when all the sky is clear and blue,
and I should like so much to play, to have to go to bed by day?

~ From A Child's Garden of Verses ~

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
she shines on thieves on the garden wall,
on streets and fields and harbour quays,
and birdies asleep in the forks of the trees

~ From A Child's Garden of Verses ~

~ Illustration from The Snow Child by Nathaniel Hawthorne ~


As a child, Hilda spent long holidays at her uncle's home in Warwickshire, exploring the countryside, discovering nature for herself, filling endless sketch pads and acquiring the knowledge of insects, flowers, plants and fruits which she incorporated in her wonderful drawings.  "A child's mind must be stimulated and through the right illustrations this can be achieved. They want deftness and richness, something they can enlarge upon in their own imagination. When I work I forget that I am adult and let my memory go back to my childhood and I put all the thoughts and feelings which I had then into my drawings. I feel that you cannot hope to create an illustration to be appreciated by children if it is produced by an adult-thinking person at the time. You must be the thing you are illustration, put yourself in the shoes and socks of the character you are creating and try to think like the prince and princess if these are the subjects you are working."  This she surely achieved!

The illustration on the right is from Lucy's adventure in Narnia by C. S. Lewis



"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the spider to the fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around: the sheets are fine and thin;
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
"Oh, no, no," said the little fly; "for I've often heard it said, they never wake again who sleep upon your bed!"

~From A Treasury of Poetry ~

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did, in a sieve they went to sea,
In spite of all their friends could say, on a winter's morn, on a stormy day,
In a sieve they went to sea!  Edward Lear

~From A Treasury of Poetry ~ 



Hilda Boswell's Omnibus a 253 page treasury of favourites including;

Hilda Boswell's treasury of nursery rhymes
Hilda Boswell's treasury of fairy tales
Hilda Boswell's treasury of verses
Hilda Boswell’s treasury of stories
Hilda Boswell’s treasury of poems


Hardback book and dust jacket published by William Collins in 1972.

This lovely treasury is now sold, thank you for your interest.




Further Reading:
Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library.
Alan Horne, The Dictionary of 20th Century Book Illustrators, Antique Collectors' Club.
I can also recommend a visit to Bear Alley



Thank you for your visit, I really appreciate it.

Update July 2016: All the books featured are now sold. March House books closed on my retirement in 2015, but I am still happily blogging here at March of Time Books. Your visits are always appreciated.

32 comments:

  1. She was wise. She learned very early on that if you are creating something for children or anyone with a child-like heart, you must leave all adult-like thinking behind and become the character. How TRUE THIS IS for the arts! And what lovely watercolours; my two favorites are the child looking through the large window at the moon (with her little stuffed rabbit!) and the SNOW CHILD! How New England is that scene! I lived those types of scenes when we lived in Massachusetts!

    Dearest Barbara, thank you for preserving a bit of childhood. I am writing my memoirs and my joy is lifting my childhood memories to the surface, and your books strike a light for me. THANK YOU! Anita

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    1. How exciting, I hope we get to read your memoirs.

      I used to look at pictures like the snow child when I was a girl and dream of visiting places like New England. I’ve always though I would like to visit in the autumn, but maybe I need to re-think if it’s this pretty in the winter.

      Thank you so much for visiting Anita, I always look forward to your comment. Barbara x

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  2. Oh my goodness I knew I recognised that Omnibus cover. One of my favourite books when I was a 4/5 year old.

    As for The Snow Child, one of my all time favourites, many thanks for sharing it.

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    1. Oh my goodness, you were so lucky! I would have loved this as a child (actually I love it now – but let’s keep that between ourselves!)
      I was spoilt for choice with so many beautiful illustrations; I tried to find something for everyone but have a feeling the snow queen will turn out to be a favourite with a lot of people.
      Thanks so much for calling in.

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  3. I recently discovered Hilda Boswell - I have the Child's Garden of Verses. Love her!

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    1. I've always been a fan of a child's garden of verses, but this version is extra special because of the illustrations. Thanks for your visit.

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    1. Thank you earthenmagic...and so are you!

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  5. What a gorgeous book!
    I'm so in love with Hilda Boswell's illustrations.
    Thank you for sharing another wonderful post : )

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    1. You are very welcome Yvonne. I'm having so much fun sharing all these lovely things! Barbara x

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  6. Thank you, Barbara, for another wonderful post. Books like this remind me of my childhood in Connecticut.

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    1. Hello Bob, how nice to 'see' you. As I said to Yvonne (see previous comment) I'm having a lot of fun sharing so many lovely illustrations. It's a little like sharing holiday photos (and I share those here too!) Barbara

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  7. I love every one of these illustrations and besides, A Child's Garden of Verses is my favorite childhood book. I especially loved the illustration of the girl standing by the big window. Just too precious.

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    1. Hi Donna, I remember you telling me about your fondness for A child’s garden, so I though about you while preparing this post. Thanks so much for coming over and taking a look, Barbara.

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  8. Hello Barbara! I love Hilda Boswell's illustrations, I have Treasury of Nursery Rhymes, it was one of the first book of nursery rhymes I had and I was so happy when I bought it. I enjoyed your post a lot learning more about her.
    Besos!

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    1. Hi Silvina, the illustrations and nursery china on your blog are exactly the kinds of things I like, so we must have a lot in common. I’m glad you enjoy finding out more about Hilda Boswell. Thanks so much for your visit. x

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  9. What a beautiful post, Barbara :) I love the illustrations, they are all special, and made with sensitivity. The Snow Child is my favourite.

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    1. I’m with you on that Hilde; the snow child is gorgeous. Thanks so much for your visit.

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  10. Lovely illustrations great post there is nothings left to say? it's all been said by previous comments , Oh Yes!
    The blue bell fairy said to me the nicest post, you'll ever see, go well Agman

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    1. The blue bell fairy said to me Agman is as nice as can be! Not as good as the original but it’s said from the heart. Barbara (I never was any good at rhyming!)

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  11. Ah the problem of getting here after so many other, they have said just about everything. I absolutely love the imagary, I don't get to see childrens books very often so it is always lovely to stop by here and see the beautiful pictures on display.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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    1. Thank you Lainy, I'm so pleased you enjoy your visits here. Barbara.

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  12. I think I must have read that last one by Edward Lear because I love red sieves and have one on my kitchen counter! When I was a child, I devoured things like A Treasury of Poetry and Mother Goose! I loved poetry more than anything!

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    1. Hello Eve, I always knew you had poetry in your soul, and now I know why! Thanks so much for your visit. Barbara.

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  13. Some of those images look familiar, so I'm sure I've seen her work before.

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    1. I’m sure you have Nikki-ann; she is very popular so a lot of her work has been published. Thanks for calling in.

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  14. Oh my goodness Barbara - an omnibus - how marvellous is that!
    It doesn't by any chance have Monday's child is full of grace etc, etc? If so I'm going to be sorely tempted come payday!

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    1. Hello Sharon, it’s a lovely book absolutely packed with good things, including Monday’s child is full of grace! The sale is on for a few more days so if you do want it now is a good time to buy – but please don’t feel you have to – I can always share some more pictures in a later post, assuming I still have it in stock. Thanks for calling in, I always look forward to your visits. Barbara.

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  15. These illustrations are beautiful! I can't even pick a favorite one because each one is so stunning. I love the Snow Child one because it is just magical. I also wish I lived on a caravan after reading that delightful poem. Such a treasure! Thanks for filling my in on the life of Hilda. I think it is wonderful that she spent so much time enjoying nature as a child. :)

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    1. Hi Stephanie, I know what you mean about finding it difficult to pick, I change my mind every time I look at the illustrations! Thanks for your visit, Barbara.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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