Friday, 18 December 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!

A few members of staff and a volunteer from the Collections and Exhibitions Team that I managed to take a festive photo of! Paula, Jess, Danielle and Eleanor.
Hello to all of our loyal blog post readers! We are all preparing for the festive celebrations here in the Collections and Exhibitions office, and thought we best wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thank you to everyone who has contributed posts to the blog over the past 12 months, and we look forward to sharing lots of exciting news with you over 2016.

As a little wrap up for the year, here are just a small sample of a few of our favourite posts from 2015 - happy reading!


Our very first post of the year 'All About Bears'

Seven Stories annual shadowing bonanza and the 'Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal Winners'
Behind the scenes in to our grand building reopening in July 'Seven Stories Visitor Centre is now open! Part 1' and 'Part 2'
A post from one of our award winning volunteers 'Ann numbers and remembers'
Our wonderful placement student over the summer, Paula, writing on her experience with the David Wood Collection 'A Twit's Story at Seven Stories'
One of our biggest collection donations of the year! 'The Michael Morpurgo Archive' Photograph (c) Damien Wootten for Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books
One of our (many!) November posts linked to Explore your Archive Week 'Foraging through Fickling's Archive Part 1', 'Part 2' and 'Part 3'
And a look back at our very busy 12 months with 'A Year in the Seven Stories Archive'
If you'd like to find out more about the Seven Stories Collection, then 

email: collections@sevenstories.org.uk or phone: 0191 495 2707 or comment on this blog.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

All About: Horses

For the very last in our All About Animal series, this festive month we are going to explore the horses that appear in the Seven Stories Collection. After you have read this post, why not click on the tab at the bottom to bring up all the other posts from this year long series. Just a tease - next year we will be exploring the terrific territory of transport!

We hold material for some very famous literary horses, as you will see below when we take a look at an item from the archive, an artwork, and a book from the store.

Line and colour illustrations by Charlotte Hough for the cover of Black Beauty, written by Anna Sewell (Puffin Books, 1954)
One of the best selling books of all time, and arguably the most well known book told from the perspective of a horse, Black Beauty was originally written, not as a children's book, but as a treatise on the need for better treatment of horses in Victorian England. It was the author, Anna Sewell's only book, and she died before knowing quite how popular the book would become.

The illustrations for the very first Puffin edition, chosen by editor Eleanor Graham and published in 1954, were created by Charlotte Hough. The two black and white, pen and ink line drawings shown in the image above would have been used by the printer to reproduce the black lines for the cover of the book. The colour elements of the cover would have been created separately, using the colour sketch, also shown in the images alternating above. The different elements would have then been merged together in the final printing.

The collection holds the complete suite of finished artwork, the cover, as shown above, as well as 18 black and white internal illustrations. The rest of the Charlotte Hough Collection consists of original artwork for 13 published titles for children, including complete suites of illustrations for the Puffin edition of Five Proud Riders, written by Ann Stafford. The collection also includes a hand-made dummy for an apparently unpublished picture book. The whole collection was donated in 2009, by two of Hough's children, Alexandra Hough and the novelist Deborah Moggach, following Hough's passing in 2008.

Black Beauty's Family, (Hodder and Stoughton, 1978)
Following on from this month’s featured illustrations for Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, this month’s printed book is Black Beauty’s Family, written by Josephine, Diana and Christine Pullein-Thompson.

This book was published in 1978 and is the second of three volumes of historical stories by the most famous ‘pony story’ writing dynasty of all time, the Pullein-Thompson family, which follow ‘in the hoofprints’ of Black Beauty. Told from the horse's point of view, these stories tell of the lives of a number of Black Beauty's relatives. This particular volume includes 3 short stories, one by each of the sisters: Nightshade by Josephine, Black Romany by Diana, and Blossom by Christine Pullein-Thompson.

This copy of Black Beauty’s Family is to be found in the ‘Warwickshire Libraries Award Winning children's books’ Collection, which was donated to Seven Stories in 1997. This collection is made up of 260 books published between 1936 and 1996, predominantly past winners of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals. This book won neither of these awards, although Josephine Pullein-Thompson was awarded the Golden PEN (Poets, Essayists and Novelists) Award in 2007 for "a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature” and was appointed MBE in 1984. We haven't yet been able to ascertain which award Black Beauty’s Family might have won - if any - and thus why it appears in this ‘Award Winning’ collection! Can you help?


We hold a couple of other ‘prize winning’ book collections which you might like to find out more about: Vera Coleman’s ‘Modern Picture Book Collection: award winners and their books’; and our own collection of Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medal shortlisted titles 2006-date. If you want to find out more about Seven Stories shadowing of the awards, and our holdings of Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medal winners, click here

Manuscript for The Little Wooden Horse, by Ursula Moray Williams, (G.G. Harrap & Co., 1937), shown alongside a 1959 Puffin edition of the book.
This small wooden toy represents one of the oldest books represented in the Seven Stories archive, as our collecting period runs from the 1930s to the present day. It is also one of the earlier pieces donated, given to us by the creator, Ursula John (nee Moray Williams), in July 2005, just before Seven Stories opened its doors as a visitor centre.

This amazingly legible manuscript follows through the whole story, and is complemented in the archive by the later typescript, a further version of the story which was sent to the publisher. The manuscript does contain occasional notations and crossings out, but, as seen above, these are relatively few. The story follows the little wooden horse on many adventures - gathering pirate treasure, working in a coal mine, walking a tightrope in the circus, and other such adventures you can imagine a toy might have! Throughout the book, the little horse longs to return to his maker, Uncle Peder, whom he wished never to leave.

The Ursula Moray Williams Collection represents her long career, from the 1930s to the 1990s.  It contains manuscripts, typescripts and related draft material for 36 of her published works, as well as original artwork relating to nine of her published books (including Gobbolino the Witches Cat, and unpublished sketches for The Further Adventures of Gobbolino and the Little Wooden Horse). The archive also contains personal and professional correspondence spanning Williams' career as a children's author, including correspondence from family and friends, fans, schoolchildren, publishing houses, professional organisations, literary agents, other children's authors, illustrators, and others active in the field of children's literature; and a small quantity of personal papers which includes royalty statements, press cuttings and reviews, notes for articles and talks, and book jackets.

That is it for this year, if you have you missed any of our All About Animal blog posts, click here to find them all together for your reading pleasure!

If you'd like to find out more about the Seven Stories Collection, then 
email: collections@sevenstories.org.uk or phone: 0191 495 2707 or comment on this blog.

Friday, 27 November 2015

CILIP NE visit

Our archives had a lot of attention during Explore Archive Week, we think that its about time that we talked about books. 

Anne Sharp writes about her visit to Seven Stories Collection Store, along with 8 other North East based Library staff, as part of an event organised by CILIP NE (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals).

A visit to Seven Stories, National Centre for Children’s Books had been on my wish list for some time, so I wasted no time in responding to an invitation to do so, sent out through the CILIP NE network.  The visit was not to the wonderful visitor centre on the Ouseburn in Newcastle, but to the less visible, but equally wonderful Seven Stories Collection Store, which is housed at Design Works Business Centre, across the River Tyne, in Felling.  

©Damien Wootten for Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
Visiting a warehouse of books may not sound particularly exciting however, Collections Officer, Paula Wride, who hosted the visit, had taken great care to select and display items which represent the range, scope and purpose of the book and archive collections.  As well as books, she included examples of hand-written notes and notebooks, typed manuscripts annotated with amendments (or comments and doodles), story-boards, sketches, engravings and water-colours.  These demonstrated some of the creative processes and stages, authors (including Enid Blyton, David Almond, Philip Pullman, Martin Waddell, and Katherine Holabird), illustrators (including Helen Craig, Faith Jaques, Polly Dunbar, Barbara Firth, Edward Ardizzone, and John Lawrence) and publishers work through, and the challenges of effectively conserving and storing different formats.  Correspondence between authors and publishers provided an insight into the formal nature of communications in the past, and prompted discussion on the less formal and more ephemeral nature of communication that email generates. 

Although the collecting policy focuses on children’s literature and illustration from 1930 onwards, earlier books are kept in the context of specific archives donated to the collection, and include a copy of one of the earliest children’s books, (Comenius’ Orbis Sensualism Pictus or Visible World in pictures, written in Latin and English) in its 12th edition published in 1777. 


Great care is taken to conserve, store and catalogue each item in the collection, with formats ranging from handwritten notes to floppy-disk, and combine the expertise, perceptions and insights, of Librarian, Archivist, Conservator and Curator, to support in turn the Learning and Participation teams at the visitor centre, and the needs of researchers and schools.   In addition to collections donated by specific authors, illustrators, or book collectors, several library collections have also been saved, preserving examples of works by less well-known authors and illustrators, book jackets, library bindings and practices.  Among the book collections there are special collections of ABC books, paper engineered (Pop-up) books for children, counting and number books, a relatively small collection of factual books, and so on.   In addition to being used in exhibitions and school visits (at the Visitor Centre), the book collections are used by researchers for a wide range of purposes – tracking the history of the book (paper, print, binding), book publishing, marketing, and specifically children’s books illustration; the works of a particular author or illustrator, period or genre; and even ballet and theatre companies for costume and set design.
                               
©Damien Wootten for Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
From my perspective, I studied Childhood and Children’s Literature and Public Library Services to Children at Loughborough Library School, and as a Children’s Librarian working in libraries and on mobile library services, I witnessed the sheer joy that books bring to children – as pleasing objects to handle, with pages to turn, lovely illustrations to draw you in and stories to engage and absorb you.  I’d see their confidence grow week on week – confidence in choosing, handling, reading and enjoying the journeys and worlds that books drew them into. Does that still happen?  I love the digital world, but I still love books.  Are children still getting that opportunity and responding as they did before?  Or differently?

A former Children’s Specialist in Public Libraries, Paula volunteered many hours before landing a paid role at the Centre, and now coordinates the work of a number of loyal volunteers (including ex-librarians) with the book collections.  She clearly cares about the collection, her colleagues and the volunteers, the authors and illustrators, and the needs of researchers and schools.  Her talk demonstrated a clear passion and dedication to her role, and was enlivened with anecdotes, which I would share with you here… but who am I to spoil a good story, for you really should visit yourself:  http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/collection

Thanks again to CILIP NE, and in particular to Jennie Hillyard, Librarian at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, for organising an excellent visit.  

Here’s a link to Jennie’s own blog post about the visit: https://mininglibrarian.wordpress.com/

- Anne Sharp


If you'd like to find out more about the Seven Stories Collection, then 

email: collections@sevenstories.org.uk or leave a comment. 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Archives and learning

Beth, our Learning and Participation Coordinator at Seven Stories, explains why #archivesrock. She uses our collections to inspire children to love books, to love writing and drawing, and to feel confident to create.

As Learning and Participation Coordinator, using material from the Seven Stories archive is my favourite part of my job!

Although we hold some sumptuous final illustrations and masterfully crafted typescripts in our archive, for me the magic of our collection material is that a lot of it ISN’T perfect. Because Seven Stories collects all items relating to the process of creating a book, our Collection Team treats scribbles, crumpled research articles, notes, scruffy sketches, incomplete letters and coffee-stained manuscripts from authors and illustrators with just as much special care as their final printed books.

DA/02/01/06 - Manuscript notes on the plot, characters and setting for 'My Dad's a Birdman' by David Almond. ©Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
One of my highlights has been sharing David Almond notes and Polly Dunbar’s artwork for My Dad’s a Birdman with teachers. When education professionals see the ‘mess’ that goes into creating a seemingly perfect finished book, they often have a lightbulb moment about how to approach creative writing or arts activities with their classes. I remember one teacher saying during a professional development session - “we’ve been teaching it all wrong, haven’t we?”   I think she meant that there can be too much expectation on children and young people to create something that is perfect first time, when actually the true creative process is surprising & full of tangles along the way!

Photograp©Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
However, the best reactions often come from children and young people themselves. During one partnership project, we used Michael Rosen’s notes and scribbles to inspire children in their own creative writing. When they saw that he had jotted down funny poem ideas on the backs of torn envelopes and letters from his child’s school, it opened their eyes to the real lives of writers and changed their perception of what ‘proper’ writing is. In that way, the archive material helps children to see that being a confident writer is achievable and that there is no right or wrong way to approach writing for pleasure.

MR/01/08 - Draft material  by Micheal Rosen relating to various poems first published in 'The Hypnotiser' in 1988.  ©Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
Pictures created when illustrators were children can also be hugely inspiring. Judith Kerr’s childhood drawings from her time as a refugee during WWII, which were carefully protected by her mother during the years that the family travelled through Europe, are a perfect example of this – when children see the pictures it is as though they have a window into Judith’s life. They can see that she is not an untouchable celebrity but a warm human being, who was once 11 years old and interested in drawing exactly the kind of things that they are interested in. The fact that these original children’s drawings are so many years old makes the children gasp, but so does the fact that they are considered to be special enough to be framed in a gallery. It’s a powerful realisation. The 11-year-old children have a new confidence when later on we ask them to create their own illustrations telling the story of their own life.

Inspired by Judith Kerr. Photograph ©Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
When school groups visit us at Seven Stories, we ask them to look closely at the collection material in our exhibitions and to share what it tells them about how authors and illustrators work. They tell us that it’s brilliant to see that even ‘real’ writers make mistakes. We agree, it is brilliant – after all, mistakes help you learn! At the end of our sessions we ask the children and young people, “Would you like to have an exhibition at Seven Stories one day?”

Photograph ©Damien Wootten for Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
It’s an important question, and we listen carefully to their answers, because (if they make enough mistakes, and keep their notes and sketches safe)…who’s to say that they won’t?


- Beth Coverdale


Explore our archives and join in the #exploreachives conversation.  Join us on Twitterand Instagram using the handle @7stories and on Facebook by searching for 'Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books'.

If you'd like to find out more about the Seven Stories Collection, then 

email: collections@sevenstories.org.uk or leave a comment. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A Year in the Seven Stories Archive

All this week, Seven Stories is celebrating our amazing archive as part of the campaign run by The National Archives - 'Explore Your Archive'. Each day will see a new theme and hashtag encouraging archives to open up online, and everyone should look forward to finding out new and exciting gems that don't often get shown off!

Today's theme is celebrating what archives have achieved in the past year. We have had a fantastic time over the past 12 months, so we are delighted to share this with you all.

We have been:
  • Hosting 27 researchers from all around the world for nearly 150 sessions
  • Taking receipt of 25 donations and purchases of new archive and books
  • Receiving 14 loans in from museums, authors and illustrators
  • Organising 2 loans out of Collection material, to Berwick and Hartlepool
  • Touring 7 major exhibitions of Collection and loaned material to Bradford, London (twice!), Belfast, Kilmarnock, Canterbury and Plymouth. These were seen by nearly 400'000 visitors
  • Blogging more than 30 posts on everything from animals to archives
  • AND...
November 2014 - Seven Stories was awarded £341,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund's Collecting Cultures programme. This enables the acquisition and transport of new material, broadening and deepening the overall Collection, and also supports cataloguing and making this material accessible to the public. Find out more here
          ©Damien Wootten for Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books. 
November 2014 - Donation of the Clive King Collection. It includes manuscripts of published and unpublished works, letters from publishers and agents, selection of fan mail, copies of published books, scripts of films and plays, draft electronic typescripts stored on floppy disks. Photograph taken by Damien Wootten for Seven Stories. 
December 2014 - Awards won by our volunteers and staff in the North East Museum Volunteers Awards 2014Ann Bayliss [left] won for ‘Contribution to Collection Care Award’, and Paula Wride [right] was Highly Commended in the ‘Contribution to Supporting Volunteers’ category. These two have been working and volunteering for Seven Stories for many many years, and it was wonderful to see them celebrated.
January 2015 - Donation of the David Fickling Collection. This comprises material relating to the career of David Fickling and the establishment and operations of David Fickling Books. It includes edited manuscripts by many of the authors David has worked with as well as correspondence.
           ©Damien Wootten for Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
February 2015 - Donation of the Beverley Naidoo Collection. The archive includes material relating to her published novels, short stories and anthologies, draft material and correspondence, as well as her non fiction titles and research into equality, diversity and multiculturalism in children's literature.  The collection also includes educational resources, fan mail and responses to Beverley's work. Photograph taken by Damien Wootten for Seven Stories. 
February 2015 - Arrival of the Paul Stickland Collection. A fantastic new collection of artwork for Paul's well known book Dinosaur Roar, arrived at Seven Stories in February. We are delighted to have this artwork in the Collection, and it complemented Paul's fantastic residency in the Seven Stories visitor centre in Summer 2014. Paul built this fantastic dinosaur head to be used in the visitor centre, and it was certainly well loved! The photo shown here is from Paul's website, have a look at what he is up to by clicking here.
February 2015 - Donation of Bernard Ashley Collection. Papers relating to Ashley's career as a writer for children, including manuscripts, correspondence and other papers. This is an accrual to our existing Ashley holdings, he also donated the annotated typescript for The Trouble with Donovan Croft in 2005.
          ©Damien Wootten for Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
February 2015 - As part of the Heritage Lottery Funding for Collecting Cultures, a new post was created. This is Danielle McAloon, our Collections and Exhibitions Assistant. She works extensively on the archive and book collections, and her name will probably be familiar to habitual blog readers!
                      ©Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
April 2015 - Donation of the Elisabeth Beresford Collection. Affectionately known in the office as being divided between 'Wombles' and 'Not Wombles' (our favourite archival category!). This substantial collection includes extensive material relating to Beresford's best-known creation 'The Wombles', including manuscripts, merchandise, correspondence relating to publications and adaptations, books, and various ephemera. The collection also includes material relating to Beresford's numerous other titles for children, her titles for adults, and her early career.
                     ©Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
April 2015 - Donation of the Michael Morpurgo Collection. Several months before donation of the material was made public, our Collections and Exhibtions Director, Archivist, Marketing Assistant and Chief Executive made the long journey down to Devon to pick up the archive. The photo shows Morpurgo signing the paperwork to hand over his papers.
April 2015 - Purchase of Barbara Firth Collection. This wonderful acquisition consists of original published artwork comprising a complete suite of cover and internal illustrations for the award winning Can't You Sleep Little Bear, plus front and back cover illustrations for the paperback version and one single sheet of original lettering (by Liz Wood of Walker Books). There is also preliminary work retained by Barbara Firth, including pencil drawings and sketches, a copy of the manuscript, photos and postcards of bears and supplementary archive material from Walker Books.


May - June 2015 - Some very lucky year 8 students from Shotten Hall in Durham worked on our new Beverley Naidoo archive, creating a new drama based on her book Journey to Jo'burg, and even got to present the play to the author herself!
April - June 2015 - For many years, the Collections office has hosted a placement student from the Heritage, Museums and Galleries Studies course at Newcastle University. This year we had the very wonderful Jennifer Patterson working with us for two months. She worked incredibly hard on all the many tasks we gave her in the store, and even got stuck in with exhibition de installation and installation over at the visitor centre. We were very sad to see her leave! 
June 2015 - One of our biggest achievements this year was installing three new exhibitions in to the newly refurbished visitor centre. Three new exhibitions opened at once, which involved a LOT of behind the scenes work from all the Collections and Exhibitions team - cataloguing, documenting, curating, not to mention the mounting and framing of around 250 works! While the visitor centre was closed, we also were happy to have a few members of staff that usually work there spending time getting to know more about the collection, and helping develop the new exhibitions. 
                       ©Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
August 2015 - Seven Stories turns 10! During August we celebrated being open to the public for 10 years. Our newly refurbished visitor centre was a brilliant way to celebrate!
June 2015 - To coincide with the newly launch Festival of Illustration in Hartlepool, we loaned several illustrations to Hartlepool Art Gallery to join their display. As part of the festival, one of our outreach facilitators, Lynn Telford, worked with 730 participants over 10 days on an associated learning project. Well done Lynn! This photo shows some of the children's drawings inspired by our Polly Dunbar artwork.
August - September 2015 - We hosted another student, the very wonderful Paula Pintos [third from left], who joined us from the University of Leon, Spain, on an Erasmus placement for 2 months. She worked extensively on both our book and archive collections, including a lot of work on the children's literature reference books, as well as our extensive David Wood archive. Paula is another face that will be greatly missed! Click here to read Paula's post on David Wood.
September 2015 - This months saw another new face in our office, Jessica Sage, who has started work as the first EVER literature Knowledge Transfer Partnership in the 40 years the programme has been running. Working hard on our Michael Morpurgo archive at the moment, Jess will be with us for 15 months.
September 2015 - The first book to be written on the Seven Stories Collection arrived in advance copy. Here is the author, Sarah Lawrance (Collections and Exhibitions Director) holding it, possibly just a bit nervous to check the final print! Sarah worked on this book for a long time, pulling together the stories behind many of the collections of illustrations in the archive. Together with her editor, the superb Deirdre McDermott of Walker Books, and help from the team here, it was released to the public in October 2015, and is available to purchase on the Seven Stories website!
September 2015 - Seven Stories and Newcastle University welcomed Karen Sands-O’Connor  as Leverhulme Visiting Fellow for 2015/2016. Karen is Professor of English at Buffalo State College, New York, and specialises in children's literature, twentieth-century British literature, literature about and from the Caribbean, and literary criticism. She is working on a major research project on publishing for a Black British child audience, working extensively with the Seven Stories Collection, and will be giving a series of lectures focusing on this topic.
            ©Damien Wootten for Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books
October 2015 - We announced the donation of the Michael Morpurgo Collection in a special event held at Seven Stories visitor centre, just after the AGM. Michael and his wife Clare Morpurgo spoke in conversation with Sarah Lawrance to an enthusiastic and delighted audience. The archive contains manuscripts, typescripts and other papers covering the entire literary career of Morpurgo to date, and will be on public display from July 2016 at Seven Stories, before going on a national tour. Photograph taken by Damien Wootten for Seven Stories. 
Phew! What a busy 12 months! 

To find out more about all the other awesome archives that are being explored this week, search for the following hashtags all over social media:

#explorearchives
#archiveselfie
#archiveslive
#yearinarchives
#archivesrock
#archiveanimals

And of course, don't forget to follow Seven Stories on Twitter and Instagram using the handle @7stories, or on Facebook by searching for 'Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books'.


Seven Stories was able to support the acquisition of the Barbara Firth, Clive King, Paul Stickland, Beverley Naidoo, Michael Morpurgo, Elisabeth Beresford and David Fickling archives through support from a Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Collecting Cultures’ grant. This has been awarded to Seven Stories in recognition of the museum’s national role in telling a comprehensive story of modern British children’s literature. For more information on our HLF Collecting Cultures project see: http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/news/latestnews/hlf.



Monday, 16 November 2015

14 things you need to know about Seven Stories' Collection

This week is Explore Your Archive Week and archives across the UK will be taking part to #explorearchives and talk about the different collections we all hold.


1. We're a museum and an archive

We collect all sorts of material relating to children's books. Our collection includes drafts, correspondence, illustrations, dummy books and everything that goes into making a children's book. We also have objects - the odd cuddly toy, typewriter and model boat.  We have shell wombles too(!)

2. Seven Stories Collection is made up of over 140 archive collections. 

photograph by Damien Wooton
We started collecting in the mid-1990s and since then our Collection has grown at a phenomenal rate. We now hold over 1800 boxes of archives (housed across 300 metres of shelving). Last year we were awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures grant to expand our Collection further.



3. We hold original material by over 250 artists and authors.  



That’s roughly 135 authors, 123 illustrators, 5 critics, 4 editors and 2 playwrightsAs we continue to acquire and catalogue new collections these numbers continue to grow. Have a look at the list of people represented in our collections (the list is constantly growing).

4. Our archive features work by many significant and household names 
Familiar names in our Collection include Enid Blyton, Philip Pullman, Robert Westall, Judith Kerr, Edward Ardizzone and Kaye Webb.

5. Our newest collection is Michael Morpurgo's

Last month we announced the arrival of Michael Morpurgo's collection.  Earlier this year, our Collections Director, Sarah, and Archivist, Kris, went on a trip to Michael's house in Devon to collect boxes and boxes of his work. 

6. Our first major acquisition arrived in 1997

Kaye Webb's collection consists of 55 archive boxes and 11 oversize boxes.  This collection is very well used and items have been used in many of our exhibitions.  Kaye Webb is a hugely important figure in British children's literature; in 1961 Webb became editor of Puffin Books and in 1967 she created the Puffin Club.

7. Our library is HUGE

photograph by Damien Wooton
Another way in which we can help to tell the story of Children’s books is through our incredible library. We hold around 35,000 books and as our archive collection grows so does the book collection.  We have early, rare, signed and first edition children's books.  We even have books annotated by the authors. 

8. We're interested in the whole process

From the very first notes to the fan mail we like to document the entire process of the creation of children's books.

9. We're the home of British children's literature

There are quite a few institutions around the world that collect children's literature archives but our collection is the most substantial archive of 20th Century British children's literature anywhere.

10. Our Collection is unique

We are the only institution in the world with a collecting policy dedicated to modern and contemporary British children's literature.

11. The first book about our Collections was published this year



Written by our Collection Director, Sarah Lawrence, Drawn from the Archive was published earlier this year. The book gives a behind-the-scenes look at sketches, storyboards, drafts and redrafts from some of the illustrators represented in our collections including Edward Ardizzone, Judith Kerr, Nick Sharratt and Polly Dunbar. 


12.  We don't like our collections to collect dust

We like to use them. Our expert team includes curators, librarian, archivist, researchers and touring coordinator.  We use the Seven Stories collection to create many of our exhibitions, to tour them, to provide research access, to blog, and to work with our other departments to create fantastic learning programmes.

13. We keep a Visitor's book


We welcome many authors and illustrators to our Collections so we keep a very interesting Visitor's book.  Our latest visitor was Jim Kay!

14.  We're taking over this week's social media

Join us on Twitterand Instagram using the handle @7stories and on Facebook by searching for 'Seven Stories, National Centre for Children's Books' to #explorearchives with us.