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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Monday Memories.

I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now? ~John Lennon
I own something I believe is considered a classic, something so old & battered & loved I can't believe anyone but me would want it: a tattered [very] copy of Peg Maltby's Peg's Fairy Book.
I do not know where my copy came from. My mother more than likely & given it's age it may even be a survivor of her own childhood. It certainly looks like it has done the rounds of several generations. The pages are loose & torn. One of the loveliest illustrations is 1/2 missing & all the pages show signs of being chewed on by horrible little silverfish. Just the same I hang on to this book & hang on to this book, not for the stories which are twee & rather too sickly sweet for my taste but for the illustrations. The illustrations are wonderful!

While other little Australians were cutting their teeth on Snugglepot & Cuddlepie, which I have never actually read, ever, I was lugging round this monstrosity. It is about A4 size with a thick, heavy cardboard cover [probably the reason it has survived so well] & nice thick pages. Each colour illustration is full page size with a wealth of detail & some telling peculiarities that intrigue me. Many of her fairies have a dark Gypsish look about them with their hair caught up in a headscarf, gold hooped ear~rings & full peasant blouses with long fancy skirts. They are domestic with washing strung up to dry & meals to be prepared. There is also a mish~mash of cultures to be found. Amongst the grape arbour pixi home are children with gum~nut blossom hair & other illustrations have Australian native animals or birds but Peg herself was not Australian born. Peg was born Agnes Newbury Orchard on January 17th 1899 at Ashby-de-la-Zouche, in England. Her family, as families do, never used her given name. Peg she was called & Peg she remained all her life. She migrated to Australia in 1924 with her husband George Maltby & they became natives of Victoria, which is understandable. The English struggle in our northern climes with the heat, the humidity, the wet, the flies & the leeches. Some of those things at least don't usually bother the southern states.

She had 4 children & supplemented the family income through the depression years with her artwork. Her fairy book was her first book, published in 1944, though I don't think my copy is a first printing. Peg died in 1984 but her illustrations are still used for decoupage work & if you ever get a chance to own a copy of her work, grab it! You won't be disappointed. There is such a wealth of detail in each picture you can look forever & always find something new.


Jan Lyn said...

Old books are such a treasure. The illustrations appear to be so lovely! Thanks for sharing them with us. It makes me want to take a trip out and forget myself for a few hours in some used book and antique shops. :)

Jeanne said...

Oh yes, I'd like a copy! I am a dreadful children's book addict, in case you don't know by excuse.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

That's beautiful artwork! Fanciful and so airy.

seekingmyLord said...

Lovely art work!

Constance said...

As always sweet lady, thank you for your kind words!

The illustrations are beautiful. Old books are such a comfort! I still have all mine from childhood, a GRIMM'S Fairy Tales in German is one of my favorites!

Have a lovely day where you are! It's going to be another hot and sticky one here in Texas!

Dianna said...

Wow. That's beautiful! I would have loved that when I was a girl.