A major new exhibition of children’s books celebrating the wondrous ways in which writers and illustrators have used myth to engage and excite young readers was launched in the Long Room, Trinity College Library Dublin, on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014. The exhibition is open to the public and runs until April 2015.
Illustration from “The Children of Lir” illustration © PJ Lynch 2014 – taken from “The Names Upon The Harp” by Marie Heaney, published by Faber
The exhibition, entitled ‘Upon the Wild Waves: A Journey through Myth In Children’s Books’ presents material from the 17th century to the present day and was prepared by Dr Pádraic Whyte, Assistant Professor in English and co-director of the Masters programme in Children’s Literature at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin.
From Walter Crane’s superb images of Greek heroes battling monsters in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys, through to Beatrice Elvery’s enchanting depiction of Niamh riding out from Tír na nÓg in Violet Russell’s Heroes of the dawn, the exhibition brings visitors on a magical journey through a diverse range of fascinating children’s books. The display, which is primarily aimed at adult visitors, features myths from around the world, with a particular emphasis on English-language books and on tales by Irish authors and illustrators. All the texts are drawn from the Library which holds over 150,000 children’s books – approximately 10,500 of which are from the Pollard Collection of Children’s Books. This collection was bequeathed to the Library in 2005 by a former Keeper of Early Printed Books, Mary ‘Paul’ Pollard.
Commenting on the significance of the exhibition, Dr Whyte said:
“Children’s literature is a central and vital part of our cultural heritage and this exhibition reveals the sophisticated ways in which myth in children’s books can be used to explore everything from gender and same-sex-relationships through to historical revisionism and 1916. I’m delighted that we have the opportunity to display for visitors many of the treasures held at the Trinity College Library, and to highlight some of the research in children’s literature taking place at the School of English.”
The exhibition is also available to view online, click here