Records of Ladybird Books

Ladybird Books Ltd is a great example of a publisher aiming to introduce others to reading - from format to content, their books are designed to help young readers and inspire learning. Many of us will remember reading Ladybird books as children.

In 1915, jobbing printer Wills & Hepworth published the very first Ladybird book in Loughborough. They soon registered an official logo and devoted themselves to creating literature for children. After WWII, the publisher expanded its remit to include educational nonfiction. .  Remarkably, the price stayed the same at 2s 6d from 1945 to 1971, a feat achieved by strict production rules and increasingly large print runs. Ladybird Books (now part of Penguin Books) have been a beloved part of many childhoods ever since.

The collection comprises 700 boxes of original artwork, proofs and some documentation from the 1940s to the 1990s, including examples of the work of notable artists such as C.F. Tunnicliffe, Rowland Hilder and Allen Seaby. The collection covers the wide range of subjects Ladybird published, ranging from What to Look for in Spring to Transformers: Laserbeak's Fury.

The collection also contains an incomplete collection of over c. 1,000 Ladybird books.

Highlights from the collection now feature in the Ladybird Gallery at The Museum of English Rural Life, which opened in 2016, generously funded by Ladybird Books Ltd.

More information

  • Chronological, title and illustrator lists are available at the Special Collections Service or download a pdf here (1.63 MB)
  • The book collection is partially catalogued onEnterprise.
  • Manuscript number MS 5336
publishing history, children’s literature business records, art works ladybird

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