Exhibit Introduction

Scrapbook of Kitty Holdsworth

In summer of 2017, Connecticut College mounted an exhibition following the development and use of animals in human form in children's literature from the mid-19th century through the end of the 20th century. This exhibition was drawn from the Gildersleeve Collection of Children’s Literature and from the Linda Lear Collection of Beatrix Potter as well as from several items loaned by private collectors. “The Passion for Fantasy: Animals in Victorian Children’s Literature and Beyond” used all three floors of the Charles E. Shain Library. On the first floor, some of the earliest animals in humanized form in children’s literature were shown, including the artists who most influenced Beatrix Potter: Randolph Caldecott, Walter Crane, and the various illustrators who brought Joel Chandler Harris’s characters to life. The second floor held Beatrix Potter’s own illustrations, including some rarities prior to the publication of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and some of her original letters and watercolor illustrations. The display cases on the third floor featured illustrations of rabbits in children’s literature since Beatrix Potter, some of which were clearly influenced by her work and some which charted their own path. This digital exhibit reproduces nearly all of the work mounted that summer.