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The Children's Nursery and its Traditions

An online library of classic 19th century illustrated children's books.

A LARGE collection of classic Children's Books for the young, and for the not so young, also books on traditional games, activities and entertainments. It provides an unashamedly nostalgic trip into the fairy magic of childhood, as depicted in classic books of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It also covers the cultural, moral and intellectual background of the mainly Victorian and Edwardian period from whence most of the included books originate. I feel it is important to retain, as much as is possible for web pages, the feel of the original vintage and ancient books, and wherever possible, I have used the best illustrated early editions available.
Those involved in writing, illustrating or publishing children's books or students of literature I hope may find these books an inspiration to carry on the very high standards of artistry and production present in most of these classics. I hope this site may serve to keep some of these very worthwhile traditions alive to be enjoyed by our children as they were by our forbears.

PlayBackground Music - Happy Hours At Home, by Stephen Foster 1862.
Or click HERE for Home Sweet Home 1823, and The True Heart of Woman sung by Caroline Moseley. And HERE is Our Homestead Is Surely the Sweetest on Earth (Song of Eva in Uncle Tom's Cabin), sung by Amanda Balestrieri


Mother Goose: The first known collection of stories under the name "Mother Goose" was by Charles Perrault in 1698, it was a book of ten fairy tales and was titled Tales from the Past with Morals. A subtitle, translated from French, is Tales from My Mother Goose. It was translated into English and published in 1729 as Mother Goose's Fairy Tales. A Much more successful version was published in 1760, by John Newberry, as Mother Goose's Melody, he also published two other children's books, The Top Book of All and Gammer Gurton's Garland. In 1787 (the year the U.S. Constitution was signed) Isaiah Thomas published the first American edition, titled Mother Goose's Melody or Sonnets for the Cradle. Since then there have been many versions, often claiming to be copies of the original, the one and only &c, most are illustrated and some are quite large collections with hundreds of rhymes and stories.
Beatrix Potter - (complete collection of 20 books)
Mother Goose Edmund Evans version
Mother Goose
Henry Ashmead version.
Original Mother Goose Melodies
with Silhouette Illustrations by J.F Goodridge circa 1878,
Mother Goose's Melodies
"Containing All That Have Ever Come To Light" James Miller Version, Circa 1869.
Mother Goose in White another J.F Goodridge version.
, version edited by "Dame Goslin" 1850.
Friendly Fairies illustrated book for young children by Johnny Gruelle.
A-Apple Pie & other Nursery Rhymes (Illustrated for young children)
The Song Of Sixpence Picture Book - A Collection of nursery favourites illustrated by Walter Crane circa 1909.
Some Beatrix Potter Books In Russian translated by Irina Kranshdtatova


Goody Two Shoes (Illustrated book for young children)
LONDON TOWN - A superbly illustrated rhyming children's picture book by Felix Leigh circa 1883
ABROAD another superbly illustrated rhyming children's picture book by Felix Leigh circa 1882
The Wind In The Willows, The Classic Children's Book By Kenneth Grahame.
The Enid Blyton Holiday Book, 41 Illustrated Stories
Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens By J. M. Barrie, With Drawings By Arthur Rackham 1902


PHANTASTES A FAERIE ROMANCE - Fantasy Novel by George MacDonald
Lilith - Fantasy Novel by George MacDonald
THE LIGHT PRINCESS AND OTHER STORIES - Classic Children's Fairytales by George MacDonald
The Princess and Curdie - Illustrated Children's Fantasy book by George MacDonald
The Princess and the Goblin - Illustrated Children's Fantasy book by George MacDonald
At the Back of the North Wind - Illustrated Children's Fantasy book by George MacDonald
GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES large collection of 151 stories (500+pages) Warne & Co Edition circa 1895.
HOUSEHOLD STORIES from The BROTHERS GRIMM Illustrated book with 51 favourite fairy tales.
Oxford Complete Edition 155 Fairy Tales & Other Stories By Hans Christian Andersen 1914 illustrated book.
Alice In Wonderland Illustrated version by Lewis Carroll.
Alice Through The Looking-Glass Illustrated versions by Lewis Carroll.
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley illustrated version.
The Hunting Of the Snark Illustrated rhyming book by Lewis Carroll.
Dickens's Christmas Books - The Christmas Carol, The Chimes, Cricket On the Hearth, Battle Of Life
& The Haunted Man & the Ghosts's Bargain.
Gulliver's Travels Into Several Remote Nations Of The World, Illustrated By Arther Rackham
THE RAINBOW BOOK. Tales Of Fun and Fancy, Illustrated By Arther Rackham 1909

ANDREW LANG COLLECTION, each contain many stories & illustrated by
Arthur Rackham

Andrew Lang page - more information about this author and this collection.
The Blue Fairy Book - traditional illustrated classic fairy tales 1889, volume 1 of 12
The Red Fairy Book - traditional illustrated classic fairy tales 1890 volume 2 of 12
The Green Fairy Book - traditional illustrated classic fairy tales 1892 volume 3 of 12
The Yellow Fairy Book - traditional illustrated classic fairy tales 1894 volume 4 of 12
The Pink Fairy Book - traditional illustrated classic fairy tales 1897 volume 5 of 12
The Grey Fairy Book - traditional illustrated classic fairy tales 1900 volume 6 of 12
The Violet Fairy Book - traditional illustrated classic fairy tales 1901 volume 7 of 12
The Crimson Fairy Book - traditional classic fairy tales 1903 volume 8 of 12
The Brown Fairy Book - illustrated traditional classic fairy tales 1904 volume 9 of 12
The Orange Fairy Book - illustrated traditional classic fairy tales 1906 volume 10 of 12
The Olive Fairy Book - illustrated traditional classic fairy tales 1907 volume 11 of 12
The Lilac Fairy Book - illustrated traditional classic fairy tales 1910 volume 12 of 12
The Arabian Nights Entertainments - Illustrated Children's Classic Fairy Tales From The East
The Red Book Of Animal Stories - Illustrated Stories of Animals, Fantastical and Mundane 1899
The Book Of Romance - King Arthur, His Court and Knights in the Age of Chivalry, illustrated 1902
My Own Fairy Book - Fairy Adventures from The Chronicles of Pantouflia illustrated 1895


THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER by Mark Twain complete original 1876 illustrated version.
The ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain complete original illustrated version.
The Animal Story Book - Illustrated Stories of Animals, by Andrew Lang 1896
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. MONTGOMERY 1908
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Illustrated First edition.
Little Lord Fauntleroy - illustrated By Frances Hodgson Burnett 1886
BLACK BEAUTY The Autobiography Of A Horse, With Fifty Illustrations 1877
THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON A close family who has found themselves stranded on an island after a shipwreck. By J. D. Wyss 1907
WILLIAM By Richmal Crompton, Illustrated By Thomas Henry 1929
HEIDI The Story Of A Young Orphan In Switzerland, Illustrated, By Johanna Spyri 1880
Robinson Crusoe The Famous Tale of the English castaway who spends 28 years on a remote
tropical island. By Daniel Defoe
TREASURE ISLAND By Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated version.


Traditional Indoor And Outdoor Games An Illustrated Collection of 320+ Games & Entertainments For Kids of All Ages
HOYLE'S GAMES, IMPROVED AND ENLARGED - an 1835 version of the most famous source reference book for games.
Three Hundred Games & Pastimes - A book of suggestions for children's games and employments 1900


Edward Lear, the complete set of nonsense books.


Uncle Tom's Cabin or Life Among The Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe, unabridged 1894 version.
Aesop's Fables, A New Translation of nearly 300 favourite fables by V.S. Vernon Jones with Introduction by GK Chesterton & very nicely illustrated by Arthur Rackham, this version published 1916
THE CHILDREN'S BIBLE - Selections From The Old And New Testaments In Simple English. Also With Many Illustrations in Colour and Duotone.
The Pilgrim's Progress - Illustrated, Retold For Children And Adapted To School Reading 1913


Young Folks Treasury - Ideal Home Life, A valuable and well-organized system for home education for children 3 to 12 years (also with many games and activities).
FIRESIDE EDUCATION - How Best To Educate Your Child At Home, by S. G. Goodrich.
The Montessori Method - Scientific Pedagogy As Applied To Child Education In "the Children's Houses"


British Popular Customs Present And Past - Customs, practices & rituals from the traditions & folklore of the British Isles. Arranged According To The Calendar Days Of The Year.
OLD-TIME SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL-BOOKS a history & description of 18th & 19th century schools, school books and life as it was for the pupil in those times.
American Pictorial Home Book - Cultural background, the middle class American home in the Victorian age, a manual of best practice including cookery, for the Mistress of the house. (600 pages)
Toy Catalogue - an extensive illustrated trade catalogue of children's toys, novelties, games, and fancy goods as they were sold circa 1900.
All About Christmas Or Christmastide - Explores the spirit, traditions, customs, mythology & Legends of Christmas
Old Christmas Recalled - Washington Irving's description of Old Christmas circa 1886
Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages circa 1912
Christmastide, Its History, Festivities And Carols circa 1890
Book Of Christmas, The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season


It is interesting to note that prior to the relatively modern invention of the novel and "realism" in literature, it was more common than not, to find stories contained fantastic and magical elements - a feature inherited from the pre-literate times when stories were transmitted orally. Unfortunately, someone got the idea that fantasy and magic was for kids only, an idea they have since been thoroughly disabused of by the "fantastic" success of recent works like the Harry Potter series and the revival through film of the works of Tolkien. I have been amused to see commuters in the train reading the latest Harry Potter release - but with the cover removed - perhaps to avoid being embarrassed by reading a "children's" book.

Due to high costs, coloured illustrations were somewhat of a rarity in Victorian books, and most of the pictures are black and white drawings. This type of picture ideally lends itself to colouring and some of the books on this site show evidence of this use by their youthfull owners.

A FEATURE of books of the Victorian period is that it was not uncommon for them to attempt moral tuition as well as telling a story, they also commonly have a strong Christian leaning. This is perhaps why many of our traditional family values are popularly thought of as having their utmost expression during this mainly Victorian period. Although, realistically, there were many problems with life in that period, there were also many good things well worth preserving. I hope that you as a parent or grandparent, may think like me, that the world can be improved by keeping alive and passing on some of these traditions, values and magic to your children.


Like Victorian Books ? Check out my site called SUSSEX HISTORY which is all about the people places and events in the history of the county of Sussex in England, where I have lived for more than 20 years. Like this site, it is mainly based on Victorian books. To contact me with comments & suggestions visit my home personal pages at

COPYRIGHT & USAGE NOTES: All the books featured on this site are provided for personal study and reference purposes only and are out of copyright in the USA where this site is hosted, the copyright status may be different in other countries and you should check your local copyright status before using them. See the ABOUT page for more information.

Site Fonts: This site mostly uses the font known as Bookman Old Style, and looks best if you have it installed. Bookman Old Style comes with most MS office products and is one which is therefore quite common, however, if your system does not have it, the text will default to display in the ubiquitous Times Roman which may not look quite so good. I have found a FREE downloadable version of the Bookman font, check my support page.
Oddities: These books are converted into web readable form by means of scanning the original and the using optical character reading (OCR) to extract the text. This process is quite prone to errors; this, and the problems of representing a paper page layout on a web page is the cause of the occasional errors and weirdness you may find.

Entire Site Copyright Rod Smith All Rights Reserved Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape