Reading – Museum of English Rural Life (Ladybird Books Collection)

More on this museum in other posts, but I was told by a friendly member of staff at the entrance when she was giving me directions that there was a Ladybird display. As the museum is about English rural life I thought it would be something about ladybirds in terms of beetles (expecting something similar to what Stuart wrote in the LDWA’s Strider magazine about bumble bees), but I was surprised and delighted to see that it was all about Ladybird books.

The cover of Bunnikin’s Picnic Party, the first Ladybird Book which was produced in 1940.

The pages of a Ladybird Book before cutting.

The original artwork from one of the Ladybird books.

One of the challenges for adapting books for the Arabic market, not least the days of the week all needed amending.

The dog was seen as unclean and was replaced by a goat.

Head coverings were added for this book.

And a switch from a pig to a sheep in this illustration.

An internal memorandum from Ladybird Books, indicating that the Saudi Government didn’t like a girl being used in one of the images, it needed to be a boy. it was duly changed.

And there’s the change that the Saudi Government requested.

Some of the foreign language editions.

And some of the collection of books that the museum has, which is a fairly comprehensive set. I remember having some of these, indeed quite a lot of them, and they remain a design classic.

This is the only permanent display of Ladybird Books anywhere in the world and I think that they’ve done a nice job here in presenting some of the titles and giving a background to their history. They change the main feature every few months to keep the displays seem fresh and I’d pop in and see what they’ve done if in the area again. This collection could perhaps do with a little more space to allow the museum to do everything they want, but this was a nice surprise to end my visit with.