Free library of Philadelphia

Alternative names
Active 1967
Active 1998

History notes:

This is a collection of manuscripts obtained by the Free Library of Philadelphia from various donations. The majority of the collection was donated by Philadelphia book collectors, Mr. and Mrs. Richard A. Gimbel and William McIntire Elkins. The collection has an even mix of American and European authors. Although the majority of the authors are represented with only a few pieces of work, eight authors are better represented. These include: American authors James Branch Cabell (1879-1958), Ezra Pound (1885-1972), Agnes Repplier (1855-1950), and Mark Twain (1835-1910); English novelists Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) and William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863); Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950); and Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894).

From the guide to the Literary Manuscripts collection, 1666-1990, (Free Library of Philadelphia: Rare Book Department)

This is a varied collection of historical manuscripts obtained by the Free Library of Philadelphia. The collection dates from 1347 to 1969 and is primarily an autograph collection. Material by any one constituent is limited.

From the guide to the Historical manuscripts collection, Bulk, 1775-1885, 1347-1969, (Free Library of Philadelphia: Rare Book Department)

This is a collection of illustrations, manuscripts, and printed material obtained by the Free Library of Philadelphia from various donations. A majority of the collection was from two Philadelphia book collectors, Richard A. Gimbel and William McIntire Elkins. The collection was assembled as a teaching collection to show the history of the book and illustrations with examples of various printing methods and illustration techniques.

From the guide to the History of the Book and Illustrations collection, circa 1250-2000, (Free Library of Philadelphia: Rare Book Department)

Catherine Greenaway (called Kate) was born in London on March 17, 1846 to John Greenaway, a wood engraver and draughtsman, and Elizabeth Jones, a seamstress. Along with Walter Crane and Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway is considered one of England's three great children's illustrators of the late nineteenth century. Her work is primarily characterized by depictions of cheerful childhood scenes.

At her family’s home in Rolleston, Kate fell in love with the English countryside. She would later draw on her vivid memories of this time when composing her children’s books. When her father’s publisher Appleyard went bankrupt in 1848, the family moved back to London where her mother set up shop selling lace, children’s dresses, and other goods. In the shop Kate learned how to sew and design children’s clothing, and many designs would appear in her later works.

In 1857 Kate’s cousin, who took art lessons at the nearby Finsbury School of Art, moved in with the family. Kate would accompany her to the lessons and showed a real aptitude for art, and her father encouraged her study. After Finsbury, Kate went on to the National Art Training School in South Kensington (now the Royal College of Art) and also took life drawing classes at Heatherly’s. She won her first national award in 1861, a bronze medal, and her second in 1864. She later received a silver medal from the school when she graduated from South Kensington in 1869.

In 1867 her first book illustration was published, the frontispiece to Infant Amusements, or How to Make a Nursery Happy . She received her first important commission in 1869 when she was asked to illustrate Diamonds and Toads, published by Frederick Warne. A few years after illustrating other author’s children’s books she began working on a book of her own. Her first book was Under the Window: Pictures and Rhymes for Children, published in 1878. The book quickly sold out and Greenaway's reputation soared to the point where bootleg copies of her artwork became a serious issue. Encouraged by this success, she went on to write and illustrate other works such as The Language of Flowers, Kate Greenaway's Alphabet, and Kate Greenaway's Book of Games .

Many critics responded positively to Greenaway's work. Some critics remarked that while Greenaway excelled at capturing the bright, cheerful side of life, she shied away from depicting the darkness. Her great friend, the art critic John Ruskin, tried to persuade her away from children's illustration to more serious subject matter. To please him she did some work in oils and had well-received exhibitions at The Fine Arts Society in London in 1891 and 1894, but she never specialized in the fine arts as Ruskin wanted. Children's illustration provided a more reliable source of income.

She enjoyed the most success during the 1880s. As her popularity waned, she became somewhat disillusioned with the publishing world and became increasingly reclusive. She died at fifty-five on November 6, 1901 from breast cancer. By the time of her death her books were being revived in Britain and America by Frederick Warne, and her works are now recognized as classics in children’s literature. In 1955 the Kate Greenaway medal was established for illustrators of children’s books and is given by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the UK.


Engen, Rodney. Kate Greenaway: A Biography. New York: Schocken Books, 1981.

Holme, Bryan. The Kate Greenaway Book. New York: The Viking Press, 1976.

Schuster, Thomas E. and Rodney Engen. Printed Kate Greenaway: A Catalogue Raisonne. Gloucestershire: Windmill Graphics, 1986.

Something about the Author, vol. 100.

From the guide to the Kate Greenaway collection, Bulk, 1868-1900, 1868-1994, (Free Library of Philadelphia: Rare Book Department)


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  • African American architects
  • Antiphonaries
  • Libraries
  • Diaries
  • Lithography
  • Illustrated children's books--19th century
  • Manuscripts, Latin (Medieval and modern
  • Missals
  • Manuscripts
  • Letters
  • Children's literature--19th century
  • Authors, American--19th century
  • Graduals (Chants)
  • Centennial celebrations, etc
  • Illustration of books--19th century
  • Illumination of books and manuscripts
  • Albumen prints
  • Exhibitions
  • Architects
  • Art--Technique
  • Fraktur art
  • Scrapbooks
  • Postcards
  • Archives
  • Printing
  • Psalters
  • Photograph albums
  • Ordinances, municipal
  • Business cards
  • Authors--Correspondence
  • Advertising cards
  • Portrait photographs
  • engraving
  • sample books
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Service books (Music)
  • Stereoviews
  • Music title pages
  • Children's authors--19th century


not available for this record


not available for this record


  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)