Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Raymond Sheppard and the Children's New Illustrated Encyclopedia by Collins

Dustjacket cover by unknown artist

The Children's New Illustrated Encyclopedia, by Collins Clear-Type Press was published some time after 1945 as it mentions the Second World War in the past. Various references on the Net state dates of 1948/1949/1950 so I suspect they are guessing or perhaps using some written inscription to date it. The British Library would not see this as being in the collection scope at the time and appear not to have a copy.  Also a quick search shows that the editor, John R. Crossland wrote on nature subjects and edited other works. He appears to have been a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. In the foreword he writes:

"You who are now to dip into this book have probably spent your childhood in a terrible war. You know well what war means to our land and to every family in it. .So in this book we have tried to give you a picture of the three great nations whose peoples marched with us to a common victory. You will read the story of our great American ally, that of our Chinese friends and the tale of mighty Soviet Russia. .An encyclopedia may become dull and heavy if it is not brightened with features that are meant for amusement rather than for deep thought. Such light and amusing features you will discover as you go through these pages."
The other contributors are listed in the scan below. I suspect Sheppard might have met L. R. Brightwell as they were both Fellows of the Royal Zoological Society and contributed to Boy's Own Paper. I have scanned some the latter's work on another blog:

Title Page

Finally enough of my ramblings. I found this book last week on an expedition round various secondhand bookshops and sent a copy to Christine Sheppard to ask her opinion and she confirmed it most certainly is her father's work, although unsigned and uncredited in the book.

Page 332a "Underwater chase: Otters in pursuit of salmon"

The picture is a beautiful painting (watercolour?) of two otters chasing a run of salmon. The picture stands out a mile in this book as most colour plates are photos as is much of the rest of the book. This is a beautiful exampkle of Raymond Sheppard's knowledge of not only the animals themselves but also their setting and characteristics.

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