A little treasure from the past




I am still snowed under at work, and so I haven’t had time to do much to blog about, for which I apologise.  One of the other things I have had to do is clear out some boxes of books from my mother-in-law’s attic.  While we were doing this we came across an old picture book that the Medieval Historian had as a boy.  It was called Tales of the Greeks and Trojans by Roger Lancelyn Green, and it was published in 1963.  The stories are really beautifully told, but what struck me was the exquisite illustrations by Anne Grahame Johnstone and her twin sister, Janet.



The illustrations are stunning.



Here, for example, are Aphrodite, Hera and Athena from the Judgement of Paris.  I love that elongated, ultra-elegant style.   It’s also seen in this picture of Hermes:



Some of the men are more masculine, as seen here:


And there is real joyfulness in these illustrations.  The pigs, for example, in this illustration seem glad to be alive:

The Medieval Historian and I tried to work out what they were painted in.  The paint is a bit too opaque for watercolour, and I don’t think acrylic was in common use in the 1960s.  I wondered if it might be gouache.

Once again, I recognise how much of my own aesthetic I get from my early childhood.  I don’t know if I saw this book but the style was instantly recognisable, and they certainly illustrated two of my very favourite childhood books, One Hundred and One Dalmations and The Starlight Barking, both by Dodie Smith.  This was a really unexpected delight as we were clearing out, and I think will turn up in something I make at some point.  And sitting down to read it after sorting through endless dusty volumes was a real treat.


8 thoughts on “A little treasure from the past

  1. I loved these books as a child. Roger Lancelyn Green wrote loads of retellings of classic myths for children and they got me hooked on mythology. His ones on Norse and Irish myth too have stayed with me for my whole life.

    1. So hard to say why those long, drawn-out rather fey forms entrance me quite so much but they do. It set up a lifetime of more body issues than Kate Moss and all the heroine chic models put together! Thanks for commenting.

  2. i could never get on with lancelyn greens style of writing (I have a problem with the style of some authors, it includes enid blyton and pratchett, whom I find remarkably similar in their rythm), but I have a fairy tale book done by the same illustrators which I absolutely adore, so I would probably buy that book just for the pictures if I found it second hand

    at the wedding on saturday we shared a taxi with a couple, I think they were called hannah and martin – he works with the medieval historian – weird, huh? we weren’t sat with them at the reception though, we were seated with a group of the bride and grooms close friends, so obvioulsy gareth got a bit grumpy cos he’s been chippy with the extremely posh since cambridge and took an instant dislikke to the banker – sigh!

    1. Yes, I tried again recently with Rosemary Sutcliffe whom I used to love and couldn’t get on with that. Small world with medieval historians/historians. I love the factions, just like the Wars of the Roses all over again over minor points of detail – but I would say that.

      1. I sat down once and listed my favourite authors and realised 95% of them were female, and the same proportion of authors I couldn’t get on with were male, and I realy couldn’t pin down why it should be that womens writing spoke to me so much more than mens. its not as though I like to read romance or anything that could be considered specifically girly – quite the contrary, in fact (it only applies to fiction, I can read anything non fiction) I find that more and more I don’t even bother with fiction writtne by men

      2. I’m not sure of my position on this. I don’t read a lot of fiction because I have to read so much for work, but it will be a good opening gambit with my girlfriends on Saturday morning – they are all in a reading group and will be up for that conversation.

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