27 Aug: The Birth of Ladybird Books

The British Museum Library registered the legal deposit of the first ever ‘Ladybird Series’ titles, from publishers Wills & Hepworth (later ‘Ladybird’) on 27th August, 1914. 

The books – ‘Hans Andrersen’s Fairy Tales’ and ‘Tiny Tots Travels’ – didn’t look at all like the classic Ladybird books we think of today – but were the beginning of a publishing legacy that changed children’s books forever.

In this episode, Olly, Rebecca and Arion explain how the classic Ladybird look – fashioned from one massive sheet of paper – was a response to World War Two; review how the publisher dealt with accusations of sexism and colour-blindness in the ’70s; and explain the M.O.D.’s connection to one of the most valuable Ladybirds ever published…

Thanks to Ladybird collector and historian Helen Day for helping us dig up this date from the archives! Discover more about Helen and her passion for Ladybird on her excellent website: https://ladybirdflyawayhome.com/so-whats-the-story-the-kitchen-table/

Further Reading:

• ‘Ladybird Books at 100: The series that inspired millions of children to read’ (Daily Mirror, 2015): https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ladybird-books-100-series-inspired-5335319

• ‘Ladybird Books: The strange things we learned’ (BBC, 2015): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-30709937

• ‘The Ladybird Books Story’ (Little Car, 2020): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ED7o4mG0lM To hear bonus material this and every week*, support the show NOW at Patreon.com/Retrospectors! (*top two tiers only)

See you on TUESDAY (there’s a bank holiday here in the UK)

The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Emma Corsham. Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2021.