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The Water-Babies re-published!

Posted by Catherine Barr on

Celebrating 150th Anniversary


Mabel Lucie Attwell's stunning colour plates adorn this exciting new edition, celebrating the 150th anniversary of The Water-Babies first publication with her illustrations in 1915. 

Once upon a time there was a little chimney sweep, and his name was Tom… so begins the most famous of British Victorian preacher, Charles Kingsley’s fairytales. A blend of fantasy and reality, Kingsley merges moral lessons with fairytale imagination in telling Tom’s story from brutal poverty to exciting underwater adventures as a 'water-baby'.

The Water-Babies was one of the earliest books published specifically for children, first published by Macmillan in 1863, even before Alice in Wonderland. It was extremely popular, appealing both to adults and children.

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of this publication with Mabel Lucie Attwell illustrations, a new edition, available here, is published today (22 October 2015) by Macmillan Children’s Books as part of their Macmillan Classics series. Eight stunning colour plates, alongside beautiful black and white line drawings, bring this lovely new edition to life.  

Written at the height of the Industrial Revolution in England, this classic fairytale was partly written by Kingsley in support of his friend Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Kingsley read an advance copy of The Origin of Species and saw no conflict in reconciling it with his religious faith. As well as being a serious critique of the closed-minded approach of scientists of the day, the story also speaks out strongly against child labour. It is credited as the catalyst for the passing of the Chimney Sweeper's Act of 1864 which outlawed the use of climbing boys. Kingsley saw it as his duty to teach children how to live an ethical life. 

New to the Macmillan Classic series, this edition makes a perfect gift and collector's treasure. 

‘To my babies – Peggy, Max & Brian and all the other dear land babies these pictures are dedicated with my love’ wrote Mabel Lucie Attwell

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