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  • Canada Council for the Arts

The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books & the Contes des fées

From Brick 95

Brick 95


In 1949, British librarian and collector Edgar Osborne donated close to two thousand rare and notable children’s books to the Toronto Public Library. The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books has since grown to include over eighty thousand items, and now occupies the top floor of the Lillian H. Smith library—its entrance guarded by a griffin and a winged lion—in downtown Toronto. Among the collection’s endless treasures: a fourteenth-century manuscript of Aesop’s fables; an Alice in Wonderland board game from 1923; the first written version of The Three Bears (minus Goldilocks), “put into verse and embellished with drawings” by Eleanor Mure in 1831 for her four-year-old nephew; and, a 1920 edition of Charles Perrault’s Contes des fées, illustrated by Lucien Laforge’s stunning pochoir panels and witty line drawings.

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