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It is not widely known that 2014 marks the centenary of the publication of books in "The Ladybird Series" by the British commercial printers Wills & Hepworth. From the start of the First World War to the start of the Second they published about 100 cheap and cheerful colour-illustrated children's books for the popular market, but only in 1940 did they fashion Bunnykins Picnic Party which was to be the first of the Ladybird Books that would come to be recognised and bought by most of the British population. Lorraine Johnson and Brian Alderson trace the history of the Ladybird venture from its wobbly beginning through Wills & Hepworth's triumphant management of the series up to its sale in 1972, with further chapters on the last decades at the printworks in Loughborough down to 1999. A comprehensive bibliography of books edited under the Wills & Hepworth imprint gives ample evidence of their catering for children at all stages of development, a central element in the millions of books that they sold. The many illustrations, mostly in colour, give convincing support to the reasons for their popularity.
The British Library Publishing Division
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