Awesome Illustrators – Blanche Fisher Wright

Did you have this book as a kid? I did, and it was one of my favorites. The rhymes stuck with me (as nursery rhymes do), but the illustrations are truly remarkable.

Real Mother Goose 1944 editionSince the first edition of The Real Mother Goose was published in 1916, millions of children have grown up with these wonderful pictures, yet very little is known about the illustrator. Her name was Blanche Fisher Wright and she was an active children’s illustrator in the early part of the 20th century. Her illustrations were art nouveau-influenced watercolors with clear, flowing inked lines. She doesn’t stick to one particular era (at least in Mother Goose) but seems to depict a more general ideal “past,” with characters depicted in everything from medieval hose to Elizabethan ruffs to 19th century attire. To an extent, at least in my mind, her art is inseparable from the poetry. Even now, when I think of certain rhymes (“Hickory Dickory Dock,” for example) the first picture in my mind is the picture from this book.

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I’m sure that sort of association is not unusual, especially where a reader’s
literary nostalgia is concerned, but it does underscore the kind of effect illustrations can have on a reader. For nearly a century, Wright’s artwork has been inextricably linked with Mother Goose, even for children not yet old enough to read. It is amazing that she could have impacted and influenced so many, and yet could be so completely unknown.

If you happen to be unfamiliar with this edition of Mother Goose, check it out. Wright’s illustrations are warm and stunningly beautiful. It won’t be hard to see how they’ve captivated generations of children and their parents.

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