Complete set of 'Orlando the Marmalade Cat' books now in Special Collections

Detail from University of Reading Christmas card featuring Orlando the Marmalade CatFollowing a number of recent purchases, the University of Reading Special Collections Services now hold a complete set of 'Orlando the Marmalade Cat' books. Two other children’s books illustrated by Hale, both of which are very rare, have also been acquired.

Most of the 'Orlando' books, several of which were donated by Kathleen Hale herself, are kept in the Children's Collection, with others, including original artwork and paste-ups for books, in the Archives of Royle Publications collection.

Kathleen Hale (1898-2000) wrote and illustrated nineteen children's books featuring Orlando the Marmalade Cat, his wife Grace and their three kittens, Tinkle, Pansy and Blanche between 1938 and 1972.

Orlando was based on a family pet, a ginger cat much beloved of Kathleen’s elder son, Peregrine. Many incidents in the books were taken from family experiences, and the character of Orlando himself was based on her husband, Douglas MacClean. Tinkle, the black kitten, took on many of the character traits of his inventor when young, and Grace is how she would have liked to be herself.

Hale was a student in the Department of Fine Art at Reading University College, (as it was then known) for two years from 1915-17 where she studied under Professor Allen Seaby. During her time at Reading, she lived in St Andrew's Hall, the building which now houses the Special Collections Services and the .

In addition to the book material, there is also correspondence relating to Kathleen Hale in both the Records of George Allen & Unwin Ltd, and Records of Chatto & Windus Ltd publishing archives in the University of Reading collections. The Miscellaneous Prints Collection contains a portfolio of coloured prints from wood blocks by members of the School of Art which includes two items by Hale.

Orlando (The Marmalade Cat) buys a farm (1972) was our featured item for January 2007.

The new acquisitions include the following:

"I don't mix much with fairies" by Molly Harrower, with illustrations by Kathleen Hale. London : Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1928. CHILDREN'S COLLECTION--821.9-HAR

Orlando the marmalade cat : a trip abroad. London : Country Life, 1939. CHILDREN'S COLLECTION FOLIO--823.9-HAL

Orlando (the marmalade cat) becomes a doctor. London : Country Life Limited ; New York : Transatlantic Arts, 1944. CHILDREN'S COLLECTION FOLIO--823.9-HAL

Orlando's zoo. London : John Murray, [1954] CHILDREN'S COLLECTION--823.9-HAL

Puss in boots. [A pop-up book]  Boston, Mass. : Houghton Mifflin Company, 1951. CHILDREN'S COLLECTION--398-HAL

The image at the top of the page is a detail from a University of Reading Christmas card featuring a design by Kathleen Hale.

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