Publishing house Egmont UK Ltd contacted the University of Surrey Archives & Special Collections team a little while ago to offer deposit of their hand-coloured E.H. Shepard illustrations on long-term loan. The team at Surrey were delighted, seeing the huge potential of this collection, and, following some negotiation, accepted the collection into the archives this summer. In addition, the publisher agreed to fund the packaging and cataloguing of the collection to ensure its accessibility and discoverability.
I have been hired for two months as Project Archivist to catalogue and preserve the collection and prepare a small selection for exhibition loan. I have just finished an archives internship at the London Metropolitan Archives and have recently submitted my last pieces of coursework for my postgraduate diploma in Archives and Records Management, so this will be my first professional post.
The new deposit consists of hand-coloured copies of Shepard’s line drawings, created for later editions of A.A. Milne’s famous books and for Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. Shepard himself coloured the drawings from Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, published in 1974, as well as The Wind in the Willows. Whereas, illustrator and author Mark Burgess was invited to add colour to Shepard’s drawings from When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, in 1989. Burgess was later also given the chance to draw the characters, and his illustrations for David Benedictus’ Pooh sequel Return to the Hundred Acre Wood are included in the deposit.
Several drawings in this new collection will feature in an upcoming exhibition entitled ‘Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic.’ Opening at the V&A Museum on 9th December, the exhibition will examine the relationship between Milne and Shepard. The drawings required will need to be catalogued and scanned before their trip to London, so they can be identified and safely returned to their new home on Stag Hill after having been viewed by thousands of visitors at the V&A. I have already found and measured the images for loan, but have not yet added them all to the University’s archive catalogue.
I am well into my second week at Surrey now and am settling in well. Archives & Special Collections are a friendly and helpful team, so feel free to pop down and see what we are up to. I feel privileged to begin my professional career working on such a fabulous and iconic collection. My eight-year-old self would be proud!