On this day: a New National Library

Sir Robert Menzies speaking at the laying of the National Library of Australia_s foundation stone on 31 March 1966. National Library of Australia, nla.obj-136760449 Canberr

Sir Robert Menzies speaks at the laying of the National Library of Australia’s foundation stone in Canberra on the 31st of March, 1966. The library was opened by Prime Minister John Gorton on the 15th of August, 1968.

National Library of Australia, nla.obj-136760449 

On this Day: British Royalty on the Front

German_Spring_Offensive_Q294 King George V escorted by Lieutenant Colonel Reginald B

30th March 1918: Britain’s King George V, escorted by Lieutenant Colonel Reginald B. Rickman, inspects troops who survived the Battle of Bullecourt the previous year. The photograph was taken in Hermin, France in the final year of the First World War.

Part of the bigger Second Battle of Arras between the German and British Empires, the conflict claimed hundreds of thousands of casualties.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

On this day: Victorian Children

Zeichnung_Kate_Greenaway_26th_March_1891 Kate Greenaway 26th March 1891

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This Victorian illustration was created by Englishwoman Kate Greenaway, and is dated the 26th of March, 1891.

Greenaway, who was born in London in 1846, was an internationally successful creator of children’s books and a painter of many watercolours.

The artist died in London in 1901.

Prisoners of War in The Mikado

The_Gala_Performance_-_The_Mikado_at_the_Theatre_of_the_British_Civilian_Pow_Camp_Ruhleben_Germany_Art_IWMART6173 1916 First World War One

The comic opera The Mikado, created by Englishmen Gilbert & Sullivan, premiered at the Savoy Theatre in London on the 14th of March, 1885.

This painting depicts the show being performed in the Ruhleben internment camp west of Berlin in Germany in 1916. British prisoners, interned during the First World War, staged the show from memory.

The painting is by Anglo-Dutch artist Nico Jungmann, who was interned at Ruhleben because he was a naturalised British citizen.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museums.

On this day: the death of Granny Smith

Granny_Smith Maria Ann Sherwood known as Granny Smith Granny Smith Apple Inventor 19th Century Victorian Australia Victorian Era

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Maria Ann Smith – known as Granny Smith – the creator of the green “Granny Smith” apple, died in the colony of New South Wales, Australia on the 9th of March, 1870.

In 1868 Smith was handed a box of French crab apples from Tasmania at a market in Sydney. After she used them for baking, she discovered a seed in the discarded peels had sprouted in a compost heap. She continued to tend it in its place near a creek.

After her death the property’s new owner marketed the fruit as “Granny Smith”.

Smith married in England, having eight children (who survived early childhood) before emigrating to Australia in 1838.

On this day: a future Queen arrives in Britain

The_Landing_of_HRH_The_Princess_Alexandra_at_Gravesend,_7th_March_1863_by_Henry_Nelson_O'NeilThe Landing of HRH The Princess Alexandra at Gravesend, 7th March 1863 Henry Nelson O'Neil di

Princess Alexandra of Denmark, the future Queen of the United Kingdom, is depicted in this painting by Henry Nelson O’Neil arriving in England on the 7th of March, 1863.

Alexandra travelled to Gravesend in Kent, England by royal yacht to marry Prince Albert Edward, the future King Edward VII.

The royal couple married three days later, on the 10th.

The Cottingley Fairies by Ana Sender

The Cottingley Fairies by Ana Sender

Fairies exist and these girls have proof!

Elsie and Frances feel sad for adults who simply can’t see the magic in the forests around them. If only they could see what we see. Taking photos is like opening windows . . .

And that’s just what they did.

In 1918, Elsie Wright and her cousin Frances Griffith photographed fairies in their garden, in the small village of Cottingley (Yorkshire). Without expecting it, many people paid attention—including renowned writer and spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Although initially reluctant, the famous author convinced a large part of public opinion.

This is the story, narrated by Elsie herself, of the true events.

The Cottingley Fairies by Ana Sender

In the 1910s, two cousins in West Yorkshire, England became famous after releasing photographs of what they claimed to be real fairies. Many people were tricked into believing the girls, including – infamously – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame.

Cottingley_Fairies_1The first of the five photographs, taken by Elsie Wright in 1917, shows Frances Griffiths with the alleged fairies.

It was decades before one of the women involved admitted that the pictures were faked; the other maintained until her death that while four were fake, the fifth and final one was real.

Cottingley-sunbathFairies and Their Sun-Bath, the fifth and last photograph taken of the Cottingley Fairies, the one that Frances Griffiths insisted was genuine.

The fifth picture.

I remember learning about these “fairies” as a child, but the fact they were fake was never in question.

Any author of a children’s book on this topic is going to have to make the decision: do you present facts, or do you go along with the assertion that the fifth image really was of fairies?

Ana Sender has chosen to finish her book with the possibility fairies do, in fact, exist, and that the girls really photographed them.

A smart choice? A silly one? Coming from someone who never believed in Santa, I’m probably not the best one to judge…

Sender’s take on the “Cottingley Fairies” uses childlike illustrations, which will appeal to some readers, while others will prefer something more magical for the subject matter. I’ve noticed a trend in this sort of illustration in recent children’s books.

Unfortunately, my review copy was disastrous. In ebook form, it began halfway through the book, the text didn’t appear until the midway point, and I was glad there wasn’t a lot of it to decipher the order of!

As always, buy books for younger readers in paper form.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

On this day: the birth of Robert Cornelius

American photography pioneer Robert Cornelius was born in Philadelphia on the 1st of March, 1809.

Cornelius, born to a Dutch immigrant father and a lamp manufacturer by profession, is credited as having taken the first photographic self-portrait, in 1839. He was required to sit still for more than ten minutes to capture the image.

Today he is sometimes called the inventor of the “selfie”.

Here is his portrait:

Robert Cornelius was an American pioneer of photography and a lamp manufacturer. World's first selfie 1839.

March 1917

Ruins in the village of Puisieux, Pas-de-Calais, France. March 1917. First World War. The British entered the region on the 28th of February. World War One. By War Photographer Ernest Br

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British troops entered the commune of Puisieux, Pas-de-Calais, France on the 28th of February, 1917, and proceeded to document the destruction they found.

Operations_on_the_Ancre,_January-march_1917_Q1807Ruins in the village of Puisieux, which the British entered on 28th February 1917. First World War. World War One. By War Photographer Er

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The photographs were taken by Ernest Brooks, who was the British military’s first official war photographer, and who made a name for himself documenting the First World War.