A Picture of Autumn – 10 Beautiful Autumn Illustrations from Vintage Children’s Books
The Autumn Equinox is upon us. We love this time of year, the changing of the colours to auburns and oranges, rouge sunsets and glowing open fires. We’ve decided to share a selection of autumn illustrations from classic children’s books from the Golden Age of Illustration.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ― Albert Camus
This first illustration is from A Masque of Days – From the Last Essays of Elia. This is a wonderful book where Charles Lamb and Walter Crane anthropomorphise days of the week and year. Here the Second of September is represented as a woman smartly dressed in forest greens and pheasant feathers. She’s serving up pheasant thighs to Shrove Tuesday.
Another of Walter Crane‘s beautiful illustrations from A Floral Fantasy – In an Old English Garden shows the passing of the summer months and the retreating of flowers for autumn. As the name suggests, this story in verse is set in an English country garden, bringing to life a time long passed…
In an old world garden dreaming,
Where the flowers had human names,
Methought in fantastic seeming,
They disported as squires and dames”
These prettye babes, with hand in hand,
Went wandering up and downe;
Bet never more they sawe the man
Approaching from the town.”
Autumn is spider season. You may have seen their large webs, full of dewdrops in the morning when the sun illuminates them. We love Dugald Stewart Walker‘s spider web in this beautiful illustration from Thumbelisa in Fairy Tales from Hans Christian Andersen.
Arthur Rackham’s illustration from Aesop’s Fables. This illustration is from The Gnat and the Lion. the gnat is caught by an insignificant spider after having triumphed over the ‘King of Beasts’. You can see more illustrations from Aesop’s Fables and read the tales that go with them here.
Apples! Wonderful trees laden with ripe fruits for harvesting – a sure sign of the arrival of autumn. This beautiful illustration of an apple tree full of russet coloured fruit is by Warwick Goble taken from Little One Eye in The Fairy Book – The Best Popular Fairy Stories.
This gorgeous illustration by A. Duncan Carse is from The Dewdrops of Fairyland by Lucy M. Scott. The collection of short stories, was originally published in 1912 and were written by the author when she was just nine years old. The Last Bee of Summer tells the heart warming tale of a dying bee in the autumn.
A bee lay dying. It was autumn; the beautifully coloured garments Mother Nature had bedecked herself in seemed perfect this year. She had covered the paths in yellow leaves, the oaks she dressed in brown, the Spanish chestnut in pink. The soft refreshing rain had fallen and made the grass a lovely green.”
‘Summer’s Passing’ is a beautiful autumn illustration, and one our personal favourites by Jessie Willcox Smith to finish this post. Taken from Dream Blocks, a wonderful book of children’s verse by A. C. Higgins full of Willcox’s gorgeous watercolours.
My mother says that Summer’s gone away.
It seems so queer I didn’t see her go,
Or know till now; she didn’t say goodbye –
And oh, I loved her so!
Now that I know, I miss her all the time.
To-day I found this piece torn from her gown.
It fluttered softly down the path to me.
Perhaps my nurse would call it thistledown,
But grown folks often make such strange mistakes.
Nobody knows such wonder-things as I.
On fresh, dew mornings, when I used to play,
Out where the friendly rose-hedge grows so high,
The pinks and four-o’clocks would lean to me
And tell me secrets of my Summer dear.
It’s lonesome now, and sad as it can be,
Since Summer is no longer here.
The Dark comes down so soon, and it is cold.
I wait and watch the sunset track,
But Mother says I’ll be a year more old
Before my Summer will come back.”
We’re so looking forward to snuggling up in front the fire and reading stories and fairy tales as the nights draw in. What will you be reading? Visit our bookshop for autumn reading inspiration…