The Horton Collection


The Horton Collection of Children’s Material contains over 800 items showing the development of children’s literature during the two hundred years from the mid-eighteenth century to 1913. The items illustrate aspects of the printing, engraving, illustration, publishers, authors, and themes reflected in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Children’s Literature. You can view a digital gallery of a selection of items from the collection here.

The major part of the Collection dates from the Nineteenth Century and was formed over a period of forty years by the late Ronald Horton whose interests primarily lay in illustration and thus, in addition to printed material, includes panoramas, peepshows, juvenile theatres, table games, hand painted playing cards and other curiosities.

The Collection includes association copies bearing the autograph of the calligrapher Alfred Fairbank and is accompanied by about a hundred colour slides of illustrations from works not otherwise represented.

The Collection in its entirety is a valuable source of research into juvenile literature, historical and analytical bibliography, publishing, illustration, costume and drama.

They have been divided into the following categories:

  • Fables
  • Myths and legendary heroes
  • Poetry; verses and rhymes; songs
  • Alphabets; primers; grammars
  • Nursery rhymes
  • Nursery stories and fairy tales
  • Fiction – pre 1850
  • Fiction – 1850 to 1913
  • Books of instruction
  • Bible and Religious Instruction
  • Biography and History
  • Travel and geography
  • Science and Nature
  • Games, drawing and colouring books
  • Drama
  • Movable toy books
  • Periodicals and annuals
  • Keepsakes and miscellaneous
  • Penny dreadfulls
  • Almanacs; birthday books; cards
  • Associated material i.e. prints; slides; individual illustrations.