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Brian Wildsmith Christmas Treats

October 29, 2018

Hello everyone, and welcome to the second of my book themed blog posts this month.

I have some very exciting news about the artist Brian Wildsmith. I’ve recently been in contact with Brian’s children and have heard that they are in the process of totally updating their father’s website. This is wonderful news. As an incredibly successful artist working here in the fifties and sixties for children’s publications, I’ve always felt that his artwork should be more highly praised in the UK since it is innovative, inspirational and already loved the world over.

As fate would have it, I was also contacted by the Oxford University Press who asked if I would like to feature two of their newly re-published books, when they said they were by Brian Wildsmith, I just smiled and said ” Yes of course”

The first book is called ‘A Christmas Story’ and it reveals Brian’s tender scenes and stunning landscapes that draw you into his sensitive re-telling of the Nativity tale. Readers are invited to travel to the stable with a little girl called Rebecca and the donkey, whose mother has left to carry Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.

The beautiful water-coloured, snowy scenes are almost dreamy in both feeling and mood. I also learned from Brian’s children a little extra detail that made the book even more personal to him and his family.

Clare (Brian’s daughter) says:- “A little story my sister Rebecca told me last night regarding ‘A Christmas Story’. Rebecca’s daughter Ornella, (Brian’s 2nd grandchild) was born just before the original book was sent to print in 1989. Brian just had time to ask the Oxford University Press to call the little girl in the story Rebecca, and dedicate the book ‘For Little Ornella’. What a lovely story.

The book was re-edited in ’92 with a different cover, again in 2007 (paperback edition) and in 2013 it came with a nativity set. It’s 2018 version is available to purchase here.  There are some fab angel themed cards for sale by Brian at the Royal Academy of Arts online shop here.

The second book is the wonderful ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’.

These amazing baubles and patch-worked colours still feel unique almost fifty years after the book was first published!

Here’s a few images that Brian’s son Simon sent to me, from the original edition, first published in 1972.

That version showed all of the Christmas gifts brought together on the final page with the Twelve Lords A-Leaping.

Below is the original artwork Brian sent to the publishers. Wonderful to see these all assembled together alongside Brian’s instructions in pencil for the OUP’s layout artists.

Also a newspaper article from 1972 taken from the New York Times.

Thanks to the Oxford University Press for the beautiful new copies of Brian’s books, well worth considering for a Christmas additional stocking filler.

A big vote of thanks to Clare and Simon Wildsmith who have been so helpful already in donating some of the information for this post.

I look forward to sharing with you, in a later blogpost, their answers to my questions about what it was like growing up with a famous Artist for a farther. I hope to release it to coincide with the new Brian Wildsmith website launch, later this year or early 2019.

Watch this space !!! and please feel free to leave comments below, I’m sure Brian’s family would love to hear your stories and memories about their father’s books.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2018 9:48 am

    Yet again, a wonderful post – many thanks, JH

  2. October 29, 2018 10:15 am

    That’s brilliant news about the new website. I think Brian Wildsmith is the best children’s illustrator of all time.

  3. October 29, 2018 7:52 pm

    The illustrations for ‘A Christmas Story’ are soooo pretty. Looking forward to the new website!

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