Many of our favourite books have won the Kate Greenaway medal for excellence. I have wondered on occasion who she was and why there was a medal in her name but never got any further in my investigations. Last Saturday on a rare childfree potter in a thrift shop I found The Kate Greenaway Treasury: a collection of all her illustrations, published works, letters and writings. Wow. And for one dollar. WOW.
Kate was born in 1846 and to look through the collection of her work is to garner a rare glimpse of how life was back in those days. She wrote songs, published a book on toys and games of that era, a colouring in book, a book on the language of flowers, poetry and verse. Some border on the absurd, some just pure delight to look at even today, these hundreds of years later.
She also had a special friendship with John Ruskin, a famous art critic turned commentator on the social and political life of the day. He was said to have anticipated environmentalism and sustainability in his musings. To be independantly solvent in the 1880's and with such friends, Kate must have been one interesting lady.
I'll leave you with a quote from one of Kate Greenaway's letters- she was asked to give advice to those wanting to learn skills to work in the arts:
"One never uses the rules, one only feels them - and defies if one likes...
But we should first know and love them"