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Manny’s birthday book – Kate Greenaway

July 21, 2011

Kate Greenaway's Birthday Book for ChildrenI have a birthday book that belonged to my grandmother, who I called Manny.  I have scanned the pages of the book and have been posting entries from it as they occur through the year.

The book is Kate Greenaway’s Birthday Book for Children.  I have been doing a little research into who Kate Greenaway was.

As you can see from the picture, the book is very old.  When it was given to me, I was told that it was Manny’s book.  That it had always been Manny’s book.  I made an assumption that it was created and purchased in the 1920s when Manny, born in 1912 was a child.  I have always thought of this type of artwork belonging in the 1920s.

I will learn, eventually, not to make assumptions.

Kate Greenaway was born Catherine Greenaway, daughter of John Greenaway and Elizabeth Catherine Jones on March 17 1846, in Cavendish Street, London.

Kate Greenaway died at the age of 55 years on 6 November 1901.

Her artwork is still popular today of course, but it was very popular in the late 1800s.

I am beginning to wonder if the earliest entries were made by Manny’s mother in her youth.  Alice Jones, my great-grandmother was born in 1886.  Perhaps she bought the book when it was first published and gave it to her daughter later.  Or perhaps, like me, she had a thing for picture books, and enjoyed these books in her youth and took the opportunity to buy one for her daughter.

When I discovered that one of the entries, ‘Emily Everett’ was a first cousin of Alice Jones, it puzzled me that Manny would have written it in that way.  They were not contemporaries.  Emily Everett was some 16 years older than Manny, and married by the time her surname was Everett.  ‘Mother’ and ‘Granny’ in the book are certainly Manny’s Mother and Granny.  And perhaps Manny did call Emily Everett by her name, and not Aunty or something.

But as an adult, Manny’s handwriting was small, while her mother’s handwriting was large.  The handwriting that I assumed to be Manny’s handwriting as a child, may be her mother’s.

On the other hand, AA Milne’s books are just as popular today as they have always been and the Disney illustrations are overtaking, but not superseding the original EH Shepard illustrations.  Beatrix Potter’s books and illustrations are still popular.

It may just be that Kate Greenaway’s artwork had long-lasting popularity, into the 1920s as I assumed.  I will investigate further.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2011 4:38 am

    Thank you for your post. I came upon it while looking up Kate Greenaway’s birthday book. I have a copy that looks just like your grandmother’s, although I must have been given mine in the 1960s, so it is a much later edition. I have carried it with me all over the world, so it has had birthdays recorded in it over nearly 50 years. It’s wonderful that you have a record that goes so far back, containing what is probably your great-grandmother’s handwriting.

    I have a personal blog with a recent post about autograph books. Like the birthday book, mine goes back nearly 50 years. If you’re interested in checking it out, the URL is:

  2. Michelle permalink*
    December 8, 2011 6:35 am

    Hi Josna
    Thank you for commenting. I haven’t updated, but I suspect even more strongly that my (Grandmother’s) birthday book was her mother’s before – There is no publishing date and other marks are missing from this edition which leads me to suspect it’s one of the early ones – and therefore published around the time my great grandmother was born. It contains the handwriting of my great great grandmother, my grandfather, my grandmother, my great grandmother and at least one Aunty. The entry on my birthday was either written by me or my father (I suspect it’s my father’s writing, as everyone else got an entry in my grandmother’s handwriting, and I was the first grandchild. Interesting that I cant tell the difference between my father’s hand writing and my own teenage handwriting!
    Thanks again for commenting and thank you for the link to your blog. I’ve been reading some posts – and will go back for more later.


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