Special Collections & Archives’ Peninsula of Pictures exhibition runs from February to May 2022, to coincide with the start of judging season for the Yoto Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals – the UK’s oldest and best-loved children’s book awards. It showcases historic illustrated children’s books collected by Mr & Mrs Oldham of Birkenhead. The 900-plus books in the Oldham collection feature the best-known illustrators of the 19th and 20th centuries, including those with links to the Wirral peninsula, and its neighbours Liverpool (birthplace of Walter Crane) and Chester (birthplace of Randolph Caldecott).
Peninsula of Pictures starts with Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) in Case 1, followed by her contemporaries in Case 2: Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) and Case 3: Walter Crane (1845-1915). The three artists were described as ‘the nursery triumvirate’ and their work transformed the illustration of children’s books. There are children’s books illustrated by two Birkenhead-born artists, L. Leslie Brooke (1863-1940) and Harry B. Neilson (1861–1941) in Case 4. Story letters in Cases 5 include unpublished illustrated story letters by the Liverpool writer Wilfred Nathan. Finally, Case 6 showcases some wonderfully imaginative illustrated stories for children submitted as assessed work by University of Liverpool English Literature students for Children’s Literature module ENGL373.