Friday, 25 November 2016

Wombat goes walk about to the Seven Stories Collection

For #archiveanimals Wombat decided to take a break from the Michael Morpurgo exhibition: 

Our Wombat lives in our Visitors Centre in Ouseburn, Newcastle
One day Wombat woke up and thought, 

‘I think I’ll go to the Collections today. I’ve been in this Gallery for a few months and I have seen all sorts of things. I’ve been picked up by many children and cuddled, I’ve been drawn and I have had stories written about me, I have wondered around and looked at a lot of pictures and a lot of beautiful words, but where did I come from?’ 

Wombat loves exploring, so with one of the Seven Stories Story Catchers as his guide (because Wombats don’t know how to use metros) he set off to find out where he came from and what he could learn from the archive that is the heart of Seven Stories, his new home.

‘Why am I a wombat and not a kangaroo?’

Wombat knows that Michael Morpurgo did alot of research to create him - some of it is included in the exhibition and some, like the draft and print outs below, are in the Seven Stories collection.  

In our Michael Morpurgo exhibition we hold draft and research material for 'Wombat goes Walkabout' (Collins, 1995). Photography © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

But wombat wanted to meet the other animals of Seven Stories – who are they and what can they do?

Wombat sat on the Story Catchers lap as they trundled along on the metro. She lifted him up to look out of the window and he saw the great expanse of river below. They travelled over the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge from Newcastle to Felling and walked the short little walk from the station to Design Works, where the collection lives. Wombat had seen all of the amazing pieces of artwork in the galleries and the old, coffee stained pages that have been written on by authors with scribbly blotchy pens and knew that the collections would be filled to the ceiling with so many of these. 

You can find out what we have in our store via the online catalogue, highlights page and alphabetical list of people 

However, he did not expect to see so many books too; thousands and thousands and thousands of books given to the collection by authors and publishers and illustrators over many years.

To little Wombat the shelves were so big and so long and seem to stretch on forever. He didn’t know where to start! But then his Story Catcher guide suddenly remembered an old friend she really wanted to see again; someone who had been in Seven Stories before she started working there and who had led her around the building many times. So they went to visit the Cat that once lived at Seven Stories. 

His name is Browser and the man who drew him is called Satoshi Kitamura.

Meeting the Cat

Original artwork by Satoshi Kitamura depicting the character Browser the cat.  Browser was designed for Seven Stories by Kitamura to appear on signage in Seven Stories' visitor centre, as a familiar mascot to guide visitors through the building.  The series includes artwork relating to Kitamura's original commission in 2004; a second commission for new signage in 2008; and a third commission relating to a website redesign in 2010. Photography © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

‘Hello. I am Wombat and I think a lot and dig a lot and explore a lot. Who are you and what can you do?’

‘Hello. I am Browser the cat. 

Black and white, pen and ink line drawings by Satoshi Kitamura depicting Browser the cat as a storyteller, in various poses.  The drawings were all inserted into an envelope, labelled in Kitamura's hand 'storyteller'.   SS/SK/01/07 Photography © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

I can do lots of things. I used to guide children and parents around Seven Stories. I liked tearing tissue paper with my claws to make collage crafts in the creation station and I liked dressing up in the Artist’s Attic under all of the flying books. I liked drawing and telling stories and eating in the café. 

Black and white, pen and ink line drawings by Satoshi Kitamura depicting Browser the cat as an illustrator, in various poses.  The drawings were all inserted into an envelope, labelled in Kitamura's hand 'illustrator'. SS/SK/01/06 Photography © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

But that was when I was young. Now I’m old and I prefer to snooze in my box and read all of the stories on all of the shelves. There are enough in here to read for many lifetimes.’

‘That sounds nice.’ Said Wombat, ‘But did you know the Creation Station is now the Studio and the Attic has been transformed into Diagon Alley?’

‘No I didn’t.’ Said Browser thoughtfully, ‘I wondered how much would change without me. I would like to visit again one day.’

‘I’m sure you will. I live there now, but one day I’ll come to live here with you. We can share lots of stories then.’

‘I would like that.’

In the second comission of artwork there are eight pieces of colour artwork by Satoshi Kitamura featuring Browser the cat, executed in pen and ink and watercolour.  This piece shows Browser reading in the winged chair SS/SK/02/02 Photography © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

Meeting the Bears

Wombat walked and walked, and everywhere he looked he saw something more interesting than the last. Then he heard someone saying 

‘We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared.’ 

The Exhibition team were hunting for everything they could find about bears! And Wombat soon learned that it was because there will be a bear exhibition arriving at Seven Stories in February. They were all looking in one particular box marked Martin Waddell so wombat nudged his Story Catchers foot and she lifted him up to get a closer look at the box. Inside there were two very smiley bears and Wombat went over to the smallest one to investigate.

We have material in the Collection by author Martin Waddell and illustrator Babara Firth for 'Can't you Sleep Little Bear' (Walker, 1988). Seven Stories recently acquired a full suite of final artwork for this iconic book and develop work by Barbara Firth.  Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

Hello. I am Wombat. Who are you and what can you do?’
‘Hello! I’m little bear and I can do a lot of things I think, like bounce around and play, but what I can’t do is sleep because I am too excited! Soon we will be in Seven Stories and we can meet loads of little boys and girls!’
‘Ah.’ Wombat said, ‘I can show you around. I know that place very well.’

Wombat looked at finished artwork from the bears story and typescripts and sketches and preliminary artwork and rough work. It was all very beautiful and Wombat felt that it helped him get to know little bear very well as he could see all the ideas that went into creating him. He waved goodbye to little bear and big bear and together they walked off into the watercolour night to look at a beautiful huge moon. He looked forward to seeing them again.

Meeting the Tiger

Next Wombat went to visit one of his favourite stories. A story that had been around for quite a long time and that his Story Catcher friend had grown up with. So they hunted out the box marked Judith Kerr.

We hold finished artwork and a small amount of preparatory material relating to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea', written and illustrated by Judith Kerr and first published in 1968. This image shows final artwork obscured by the original overlay JK/03/01/02  Artwork © Judith Kerr Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

Inside was a grinning tiger. There were all sorts of things in this box. Judith Kerr had spent time observing real tigers to draw her sketches so there were lots of tigers that were certainly not grinning. But Wombat was keen to meet the Tiger of his favourite story, so with white gloves on, they carefully took him out of the box.

‘Hello. I am Wombat. Who are you and what can you do?’

‘I am Tiger. I can eat a lot. I used to live in Seven Stories too, but I ate all the sandwiches in the café and all the soup from the kitchen and drank all the sweet drinks until there was nothing for all of the customers to eat or drink. And then I went on tour across the country and met loads of new people.  I got to see Judith too, she was the lady who created me. When I finished visiting different Museums and Galleries they thought it best that I come to live here. There are still lots of biscuits and tea here, but at least I’m not eating food made for the visitors.’
‘That sounds like they made a wise decision. They now make white hot chocolates and Seven Stories…’ said Wombat, and his eyes glazed over as he remembered how sweet they were.

Our Judith Kerr exhibition included a large model tiger ready for tea. The exhibition finished touring earlier in 2016. You can see more items from the Judith Kerr highlight pagePhotograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

‘Oh really?’ said the Tiger, trying to imagine them. ‘Hmmm. I might have to visit Seven Stories again some time.’

Meeting the Wolf

Then wombat thought about all of the books on all of the shelves in the collections. 
‘These are so wonderful, but most people can read these books in shops everywhere. Why are these more special than the ones I can buy in the shop?’

This is a section of Robert Westall book collection which includes a number of translated editions.  Our book collections are often donated alongside collections but we also hold ex-library and standalone collections.

 said the Collections Officer called Paula, ‘These books span hundreds of years. The oldest book in this collection is from 1770. We also house different versions of a lot of children’s books. You can see how the artwork on the covers change as time goes by and styles alter as different art forms become popular. You can also find books signed and collected by authors and publishers, books that were given as gifts from one illustrator to another which reveals friendships and connections across the literature world. You can find books you love in different languages and find out how important British Children’s Literature is to countries around the world. Context connects these books in a very magical way which makes this collection very important'

Then Wombat heard a snarl coming from a box.

‘Oh yes..’ Said Paula quietly, ‘And some books in here you would never find in a book shop.’

Paula pulled the box carefully from the shelf and opened it, lifting sheets of protective paper to reveal a very small, very delicate looking, hand-made book. The cover was made of soft black velvet-y material. There was no title. No writing on the spine. It all looked very ominous.

They heard another muffled growl coming from within the pages. So together they opened the book and looked inside. It was a story about Polly and the hungry wolf by Catherine Storr, but the pages were all written in pen and Wombat could see where illustrations had been rubbed out and drawn over. After a few pages, they happened upon the Wolf.

Our Catherine Storr collections includes handmade books and dummy books like this one about Clever Polly and the wolf. If you are interested in learning more about Catherine Storr you can explore the The Catherine Storr Experience.  CS/02/02 Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

‘Hello. Who are you and what can you do…’
Wombat asked, keeping his distance.

‘Well, hello. I am The Hungry Wolf, and I can gobble you up!’ Said the tiny little wolf from the tiny little book. He certainly did look mean and scary, but he was also smaller than Wombat’s paw.
‘He can’t really hurt you.’ said Paula ‘This is what we call a Dummy Book. Writers and Illustrators make these little books to know how the words and the pictures will look on the page when the finished book is put together. Many authors such as Judy Brook, Helen Craig and Katherine Holabird create dummy books and we have lots of them in our collection. You would never find these in a bookshop.’

Wombat was very curious. He looked at the Wolf’s angry little eyes and thought it’s a very good thing he didn’t live at Seven Stories. 
‘Thank you for showing me these.’ He said. ‘But I think we should put him away now.’

Time to go Home

Wombat let out a rather large yawn and then found himself being scooped up by his Story Catcher guide. ‘Time to head home I think’ she said. Wombat nodded. He had met a lot of interesting characters on his journey and felt that he had learned a lot. He had a lot to think about now, and a lot to tell the other animals in his gallery when he got home.

Yes. Wombats do like to sleep a lot, and I think it is time for me to do just that. But I am looking forward to our next adventure!’

- Charlotte Brumby, Story Catcher (and Wombat). 

You can find Wombat in our Michael Morpurgo exhibition

Thursday, 24 November 2016

All About: #autoarchives

We've held onto this month's All About Transport blog post to bring you a selection of the Collection and Exhibition Team's favorite modes of transport for #autoarchives.  It is #ExploreArchives week afterall.  Don't forget to let us know your favorite mode of transport in children's books. 

Original artwork by Helen Craig for 'Angelina's Birthday'. HCr/01/04/04 Artwork © Helen Craig. Photography © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

I love the red bike that Angelina gets for her birthday, the excitement of getting a shiny new bike is phenomenal, Helen Craig conveys that so well through her beautiful illustrations.  We gave our daughter a bike basket just like Angelina’s when she was 7 and decorated our garden in much the same way that Angelina did with streamers and balloons.
Sarah McGlynn – Touring Coordinator

Section about materials in the Ladybird Book 'How to Make: Flying Models Photography © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

Spotting the difference between Ladybird books has become a habit of mine. There are just so many editions, so many similar titles and just so many books.  I had started to count editions of Ladybirds about motorcars to make this point.  I counted ten and then got distracted by a huge pile of ‘Tootles the Taxi’, before I finally realised how arbitrary such a count would be because I couldn’t decide when to draw the line.  Then I decided I wanted to write about Hovercrafts in Ladybird books before stumbling on this gem: ‘How to Make: Flying Models’. Ladybird have written about everything.  This book teaches us not only how to make the PERFECT paper aeroplane but how to make planes from wood – really committed crafting.  What this little task has made me realise is that people survived without the internet because they had Ladybird books.  The internet?  Please ask me about the Ladybird title ‘How to Internet Shop’ for #autoarchives
Danielle McAloon – Collections and 
Exhibition Assistant

Original artwork with annotations, by Barabara Jones for Timothy Tramcar, c. 1950. These illustrations show the campaign in favour of the trams, and a bus leaving poor Timothy in his wake. Photography © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

I love the artwork by Barbara Jones for Timothy Tramcar. It was actually one of the first ever artworks I saw when starting work at Seven Stories, and it stuck with me ever since. The artwork in places is quite psychedelic, and I was really excited to get to work in a place that uncovered such intriguing books! Recently I researched it further for a blog post, and the history of it I still find quite fascinating, particularly the illustrator’s involvement in documenting the dramatic changes in post war life around the UK, and how this feeds in to the story.
Alison Fisher – Exhibition Curator

Draft material by Elisabeth Beresford for her series of Wombles Titles. Photography © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books. 

The Wombles are the perfect urban citizen. They keep to themselves, clean up rubbish, and have a strong sense of community. I love the fact that they form their lives around recycled material and objects, and are always having creative, if far-fetched, inventive ideas. In a story draft called ‘The Conservation Car’, the author Elisabeth Beresford describes how the Wombles come across a giant magnet and want to put it to use. It happens that fuel prices are too high for them to drive their car (a hotchpotch of castaway human objects) – so they attach the magnet to the front of it and get pulled along by an unwitting lorry. I’m sure they were the furriest hitchers the driver has ever had.
Charlie Shovlar – Career Development 
Module work placement student

Photographs from translated editions of 'The Little Train' illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. Editions include Japanese, Spanish and Afrikaans.  Photography © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books.

I’m fascinated by the foreign editions of The Little Train book, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone in the 1973 which we’ve recently acquired.  Excuse the pun but there’s an intriguing story attached to the publication of The Little Train, which was written by Graham Greene and originally illustrated by Dorothy Craigie in 1946.  Seven Stories holds the original illustrations by both Craigie and Ardizzone and it is really interesting to see how they each chose to illustrate the same story, in their own different styles and media.  What I love about the foreign editions of the books is that not only has the text of the main story been translated as one would expect, but Ardizzone’s hand written text which is overlaid within his illustrations has also been translated e.g. in the labels on the map of the Little Train’s journey and in text written within speech bubbles.  Sometimes this has caused a practical problem for the translator / publisher so that in the Japanese, Spanish, Afrikaans, Norwegian, and Swedish editions of the book, you can clearly see where Ardizzone’s original text has been overwritten and hasn’t quite been disguised!  I also love comparing the text in all the different languages to see how the translator has coped with some of the more unusual words.  It’s particularly fun looking at the black ‘Stop – Boomp – Woosh…. Bump – Clang – Whee - Bang’ page and the very last ‘Puff, puff, puff’ page of the book.
Paula Wride – Collection Officer

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

#HairyArchive Bears

It is #ExploreArchives week and to help explore#archiveanimals our KTP Associate Dr Jessica Medhurst discusses bears at Seven Stories and bears in children's books. 

In February 2017 Seven Stories will be opening a new exhibition all about bears in children’s books, which means the exhibitions team is hard at work at the moment reading books about bears, choosing items from the archive to go in it and speaking to authors and illustrators about their work on bears.

For my part I’ve been doing a bit of digging into the history of bears in literature and culture more widely, including the Aesop’s fable ‘The Travellers and the Bear’ (moral: be careful who you hit the road with), cartoon bears (Rupert, Biffo and Yogi), Shakespeare’s famous stage direction ‘Exit, pursued by bear’, and family favourites such as Winnie the Pooh (1926, Methuen) and Paddington Bear (Collins, 1958).

Original artwork by Robert Ingpen of the Hundred Acre Wood, from the well known series Winnie the Pooh written by A.A. Milne.  Photograph © Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books

The association between bears and childhood seems to be an obvious one, perhaps in part because so many of us had (or have) teddy bears of our own.  But how did we come to turn this ferocious animal into a cuddly toy that’s our bedtime protector from bad dreams and the dark?  And what other kinds of bears do we find in children’s books?

Teddy bears began their history outside of books as an early twentieth-century phenomenon and were developed simultaneously, in about 1905, in both America (by the Michtom family, named after Teddy Roosevelt) and Germany (by the Steiff company who had been making increasingly elaborate animal-shaped pin cushions for a couple of years).  They entered into wider culture quite quickly: within 2 years the instrumental version of ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ was composed (in 1907 – the lyrics were added in 1932) and in 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh was published, cementing the place of the cuddly bear in children’s books.

Teddy bears are now a common attachment toy in the UK but what do you do when it’s a bear that needs comforting, rather than a child?  That’s the problem addressed in Martin Waddell and Barbara Firth’s Can’t You Sleep Little Bear? (1988, Walker).  In a bit of a role reversal, Firth’s illustrations of Little Bear’s attachment toys look rather human, although it takes much more than a couple of toys to get him to sleep.

Original artwork by Barbara Firth for 'Can't You Sleep Little Bear' (Walker, 1989), written by Martin Waddell.  Photograph © Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books

The bears in Can’t You Sleep Little Bear? live in a cave but are very domesticated (they have furniture and Big Bear is trying – desperately – to finish his book) but not all bears in books are safe and cuddly.

Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (1989, Walker), which is based on an American folk song, doesn’t involve guns or traps but the bear at the end scares the family enough that they run home and hide in bed.  As you can see from this draft, the text is quite simple but it’s what’s not being said that tells us more.  

Michael Rosen's annotated typescript draft of Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (1989, Walker). Photograph © Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books

Michael’s scribbled directions come out in Helen’s illustrations and also his magnificent performances, like this one.

Of course, sometimes the humans in the book deserve what’s coming to them, such as in the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  I was surprised to learn that neither the Grimm brothers nor Hans Christian Anderson recorded this story – the earliest known version is by the Poet Laureate Robert Southey from 1837 (pp318-326 here, with fabulous fonts for each of the bears), although it’s very likely that it will have been told – and perhaps even published – before then.  

Ladybird Edition of Goldilocks and the Three Bears (c. 1972)

Like all fairy tales it’s been retold ever since, with authors changing Southey’s old lady Silver-Hair to a young girl Goldilocks by the end of the nineteenth century.  The fairytale has had the Ladybird book treatment more than once, such as the 1972 version above, and  Harold Jones illustrated Kathleen Lines’ Jack and the Beanstalk, A Book of Nursery Stories (OUP, 1960), as you can see in the dummy book below. As in Can’t You Sleep Little Bear the bear family here are a bit like hairy humans – in fact they’re perhaps better at being human than the thieving Goldilocks.

Original dummy book artwork by Harold Jones for his 'Jack and The Bean Stalk' (

Oxford University Press, 1960) edited by Kathleen Lines. Photograph © Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books

The relationship between bears and humans in children’s books is by no means straightforward, something the exhibition’s curators are getting their (human) teeth into.  Sometimes the bears are ferocious, as in Little House in the Big Woods, sometimes they’re cozy toys, as in Winnie-the-Pooh, and sometimes they’re a mixture of wild and protector, as is the case with Philip Pullman’s Iorek Brynison in the His Dark Materials books.
All these bears and more will be explored in the ‘Bears!’ exhibition; in the meantime, we want to know who your favourite book bears are.  Do you agree with this Top Ten or is Hugless Douglas a family fave? 

A 1922 Edition of  Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (Macmillan and co)

What about Baloo, Albert Bear or John Betjeman’s faithful friend Archibald?  You can leave your recommendations in the comments below.

Monday, 7 November 2016

David Almond Fellowships 2016/17

David Almond with Michael Morpurgo
David Almond; award-winning North East children’s writer, patron of Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books and honorary graduate of Newcastle University. It seems only fitting that we named our annual fellowships in children’s literature in David’s honour!
Newcastle University and Seven Stories’ David Almond Fellowships aims to promote high-quality research into the Seven Stories Collection by supporting award holders to make a study visit to Newcastle. And there are so many amazing collections that you could research! You can browse the blog for ideas or check out our collection highlights, catalogue and alphabetical list of represented authors and illustrators
Collections at Seven Stories. Image: Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books. Photography: Damian Wootten.
Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. Photography: Damien Wootten

We launched the David Almond Fellowships in 2012 to increase national and international access to Seven Stories’ Collection and build new links with researchers. So far, we’ve awarded 11 Fellowships and over half of our Fellows have come from outside the UK.
Lucy Stone, one of our 2016 award-holders, says of her David Almond Fellowship:

“To take up the pen, pencil or paintbrush proffers the chance to make sense of the beautiful, but also perplexing world into which children are born, grow and find their place as an adult. The Judith Kerr Collection contains a myriad of remarkable drawings, paintings and writings child Kerr crafted pre- and during her family’s exile from Nazi Germany. Thanks to a David Almond Fellowship, I had the wonderful opportunity this summer to examine Kerr’s juvenilia, now part of my doctoral research involving consulting archives across Europe and the US to determine what writing and drawing can offer refugee children. Everyone at Seven Stories and the Children’s Literature Unit were incredibly helpful and supportive; the Fellowship proved invaluable.” 
Collections at Seven Stories. Image: Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books. Photograph: Damien Wootten.
Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. Photography: Damien Wootten

And, applications for the 2016/17 David Almond Fellowships are now open! You have until 1 December 2016 to apply for visits to be taken before the end of August 2017. Have a look at the David Almond Fellowship Information 2016-2017 for full details of how to apply, and download the David Almond Fellowship Application form.

We would love to welcome you to Newcastle as a David Almond Fellow – and you could even research David’s collection…
For more information about the David Almond Fellowships, visit the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics website or contact Professor Kim Reynolds.
- Rachel Smith, Vital North Partnership Manager 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

500,000 Thank yous

Today HLF are celebrating their 500,000th National Lottery grant.  We'd  like to thank the National Lottery players who have helped to support half a million projects including our current HLF Collecting Cultures project. 

Since our last update a lot has happened at Seven Stories thanks to the HLF funding; we've opened new exhibitions, have been documenting our 2015 arrivals and have made some really exciting acquisitions into the collections.  So, in the spirit of celebration we want to share with you our 2016 Collecting Cultures achievements. 
Since January we have received seven acquisitions into the collection. These include 
Wombles artwork 
Artwork from two Wombles illustrators are now represented in our Collection and complement our existing Elisabeth Beresford Collection. 
We now hold a full suite of Oliver Chadwick's original pen and ink artwork for the 1970 title 'The Wandering Wombles'.  What makes this collection so fascinating are the Wombles themselves, they look nothing like the Wombles you may be imagining but seem more bear-like. 

Selection of artwork by Oliver Chadwick for Elisabeth Beresford's book 'The Wondering Wombles.' Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

The Wombles many people will be familiar with, those based on the design of the Ivor Wood television puppets, can be seen in our second acquisition. These are two pieces of final artwork by Barry Leith for the 1975 reissued edition of 'The Wombles'.  
'The Wombles' books had three illustrators Oliver Chadwick, Barry Leith (who also illustrated 'The Wombles at Work') and Margaret Gordon (who illustrated the other four).  

Selection of artwork by Barry Leith for the 1975 reissue of Elisabeth Beresford's book 'The Wombles.' Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books

Kathleen Lines papers
Back in May we received Kathleen Lines papers which includes material relating to her editorial work, anthologies and talks.  Kathleen Lines was a librarian, critic and anthologist who is well known for her selection of classic fairy tales in Lavender's Blue.   Lines' papers are very well situated in our Collections at Seven Stories and help to support our current holdings. In 2008 we received Lines' book collection and we also hold a full suite of Harold Jones' artwork for Lavender's Blue (some of which you can see in our Rhyme Around the World exhibition).  

Ruth Gervis accrual

To build upon our existing holdings for Ruth Gervis we have acquired a box of original artwork, two notebooks and reviews. Already in our Collection is material associated with the book 'Ballet Shoes', illustrated by Ruth Gervis and written by her sister, Noel Streatfeild. We're very excited to start documenting the accrual!

Wes Magee

Wes Magee has published more than 100 books for young readers – fiction, poetry, plays, picture books, and anthologies - and he is now another great name represented in our Collections. We recently acquired eight boxes of material relating to his work and these are currently being processed by our Conservator before we begin documentation. 

Aidan Chambers 

The biggest acquisition of 2016, and probably in Seven Stories history is that of the Aidan Chambers Collections.  A total of 129 boxes were delivered to our store.  We're very excited about this collection; with its representation of Aidan's work, Thimble Press and Signal it offers a fantastic insight into Children's Literature and will no doubt be a rich resource for researchers.  

Selection of shelving containing the Aidan Chambers collection as it arrived earlier this year.  Photograph © Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books.

Those of you who are counting may have noticed that not all eight acquisitions have been described here - we have a few exciting surprises up our sleeve so keep your eyes open!

Michael Morpurgo
The catalogue may not be available online yet but so far we have catalogued material relating to
          • 39 Published titles
          • 10 Picture books
          • 24 different screenplays and adaptations
          • and 277 notebooks                                                                                                                   
Beverley Naidoo

The original delivery and later accrual of Naidoo's collection is now fully repackaged and fully catalogued - it is awaiting a few minor adjustments before you can find it online.

Selection of material from the Beverley Naidoo Collection Photograph © Damien Wooton for Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books.


The Michael Morpurgo Collection arrived at Seven Stories in 2015 and by July 2016 we opened the doors to our spectacular Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime of Stories exhibition which you can see at our Visitor Centre

Michael Morpurgo at the opening of his exhibition Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime of Stories. Photograph ©  Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books.


We don't like our Collections to sit on shelves for too long so some of our Collecting Cultures acquisitions have already been used in educational white glove sessions.  Most notably was Shotton Hall Academy's Beverley Naidoo project in 2015 which worked so well that we're currently planning a similar event using the same material.

Over the year we have shown Wombles artwork, 'Azzi in Between' artwork and Michael Morpurgo and Beverley Naidoo papers to illustration students, budding child writers, academics and researchers. 


Three Seven Stories volunteers hard at work in our store. Photograph © Damien Wooton for Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books.

At the beginning of 2016 we had five volunteers working on our Collecting Cultures projects - they numbered documents, listed and helped to re-house collections into purpose-made folders. Some of the projects they worked on included the Michael Morpurgo, Beverley Naidoo, Clive King, Gillian Cross and Elisabeth Beresford collections.  Our volunteer Jonathan wrote us a blog post about his experience listing the Clive King papers

Currently we have a work placement student from Newcastle University who is helping to sort the Elisabeth Beresford Wombles material as part of her course. 

It has been a busy year for our Collections and Exhibitions team and we look forward to updating you all on our future achievements.  Keep your eyes and ears open for more exciting acquisition announcements!

If you have any questions please email: or phone: 0191 495 2707 or comment on this blog.