Nature Surplus, Ribbits, Croaks, and More
Poetry Friday: Mary Ann Hoberman's "Snow"

Bookmark: Eudora Welty & Our Wonder World

"I was presented, from as early as I can remember, with books of my own, which appeared on my birthday and Christmas morning. Indeed, my parents could not give me books enough. They must have sacrificed to give me on my sixth or seventh birthday—it was after I became a reader for myself—the ten-volume set of Our Wonder World. These were beautifully made, heavy books I would lie down with on the floor in front of the diningroom hearth, and more often than the rest volume 5, Every Child's Story Book, was under my eyes. There were the fairy tales—Grimm, Andersen, the English, the French, "Ali Baba the Forty Thieves"; and there was Aesop and Reynard the Fox; there were the myths and legends, Robin Hood, King Arthur, and St. George and the Dragon, even a history of Joan of Arc; a whack of Pilgrim's Progress and a long piece of Gulliver. They all carried their classic illustrations. I located myself in these pages and could go straight to the stories and pictures I loved..."

from One Writer's Beginnings, by Eudora Welty (Harvard University Press, 1984)

The books are still apparently at her home, too, on the sleeping porch. Click this link for the Eudora Welty House, which the public can now tour (by reservation). Curious about Our Wonder World, I looked the books up at Alibris, and, lo and behold, there they were, including Every Child's Story Book. I also came across a short bio of Marion Florence Lansing, an editor of the series, at the Baldwin Online Children's Project. For the Junior Book of Authors of 1935, Lansing wrote,

In 1912 I began to be an editor, getting other people to write for a library for boys and girls called "Our Wonder World" which came out in 1914 in ten big volumes with fine pictures on every page. It told about everything young people are interested in, from games and handicraft and camping to animals and electricity and radio and volcanoes and hundreds of other scientific subjects, with travel and adventure and literature and art and biography sprinkled in. For many years it was my pleasant duty to keep that set up to date for its publisher, and with all the changes that happened in the world in the years between 1914 and 1932, when we got out a revised and remade “New Wonder World,” you may believe I was busy.

I've never seen Our Wonder World, but I am ever so fond of One Writer's Beginnings. It's short. You could practically read it in one sitting, but you'll want to savor it.


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