Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Illustrations in LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE

On social media and in some newspapers, people are talking about a documentary about Laura Ingalls Wilder that is in development.

I've done a lot of writing about the books and Wilder. I am not a fan. I think they've got many problems that are not seen as such by most readers.

I've pulled a lot of my materials on Wilder out, and thought some AICL readers might be interested in seeing the original illustrations done by Helen Sewell, compared to what Garth Williams did. I'm using a hardcover copy of the Sewell book. I don't have the book jacket, but for your reference, it looked like this:

Little House on the Prairie: Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Illustrated by Helen Sewell.

Most of the books that have illustrations by Williams have the cover shown below (a notable exception was one that showed a photo of a little girl meant to be Laura).

So--here you go! I'll number the side-by-side photos as I place them here. If you want to, submit comments below and refer to the photo number when you refer to a specific one. Apologies for the rough quality of the photos! I don't have lighting or equipment to do a professional-looking presentation of the books. Today you'll see photos of the cover thru end of the first chapter. I'll add others as time permits.

As you'll see when you scroll down, I'm trying to match text on page whenever either book has an illustration. Why did Sewell make decisions she did? Or Williams? How much autonomy did they have? How much was determined by Wilder? Or by the book editor? Or by the art department?

I welcome your thoughts and if you can point to writings about any of this, please do! And if you use these for your own writing, please cite me (Debbie Reese) and AICL.

****

COVER (on left is Sewell; on right is Williams).

#1
No description available.


TITLE PAGES

#2
No description available.


#3
No description available.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

#4
No description available.


ANOTHER TITLE PAGE

#5
No description available.



CHAPTER 1: GOING WEST

#6
No description available.

#7
No description available.

#8
No description available.

#9
No description available.


My only observations at the moment for chapter one are that the Williams edition has more illustrations than the Sewell one. Four illustrations of the wagon versus one illustration of the girls clinging to their rag dolls. Quite different in tone, isn't it?


Update: July 29, 2020--Back to add photos of illustrations in chapter two, "Crossing the Creek"

#10
No description available.

#11
No description available.

#12
No description available.

Observations: The Sewell edition has no illustrations in chapter 2. The Williams one has illustrations on four pages. Three of the four have the wagon, and Williams is bringing a visual emotional tone of danger and loss to the story.


1 comment:

Jean Mendoza said...

I'm noticing how prominently the wagon is featured in the Williams illustrations, so far. Between editions of the book, had the reading public become more interested in the travel aspect of "going west"? Was it a matter of the illustrators choosing what they wanted to depict?

So far, Sewell focuses on the children and animals. The dwelling appears only on the cover. Williams' illustrations show a landscape, birds, people (from a distance), and the wagon. The "little house on the prairie" appears at a distance on the Williams title page, and the "little house in the big woods" is in the background when the Ingalls family says good-bye to their family. On the table of contents page, Williams depicts a small, indistinct "Indian"figure on a hilltop. So that's probably a bit of foreshadowing for the early-20th-century reader: "There will be Indians in this book!"