Non-circulating; available for research.
This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials, other than that noted above.
Wanda Gag was born on March 11, 1893 in New Ulm, Minnesota. The eldest of seven children born to parents of Bohemian descent, she grew up exposed to European customs, folklore, and folk music. Her parents encouraged drawing, painting, reading, and music in the household. Her sister Flavia also became an author/illustrator.
When Gag was fifteen, her father, an artist, died, leaving the family impoverished. To earn money, Gag began writing and illustrating stories for the Minneapolis Junior Journal, and she sold some drawings to local residents. She won an art award and later scholarships to art school in the Twin Cities. After graduating from high school, she taught in a rural Springfield, Minnesota school for a year in order to help her family financially. She then attended St. Paul Art School, 1913-1914, and Minneapolis Art School, 1914-1917. Eventually she received a scholarship to the Art Student's League, 1917-1918, in New York City. While in New York Gag held several jobs in commercial art, including fashion design.
In 1927 she moved to Tumble Timbers near Glen Gardner, New Jersey, and began working hard to develop her ideas for children's books. In 1928 her first book, Millions of Cats, was published, followed by The Funny Thing (1929) and The ABC Bunny (1933). In 1930 Gag married Earle Marshall Humphreys, and they bought a one hundred-year-old farm which they named "All Creation." Here she produced children's books and much of her notable art work. She translated several of the original Grimm fairy tales, adding her own interpretations, and continued working until her death in 1946.
Striving to be clear and imaginative, Gag tried to make an illustration for a children's book as much a work of art as those works she would display in an art exhibition. Her art was featured in individual shows at the New York Public Library (1923) and the Weyhe Gallery, New York (1926, 1930, and 1940) and in group shows at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1939) and the Metropolitan Museum, New York (1943). Gag was the recipient of the Newbery Honor Book Award for Millions of Cats in 1929 and for The ABC Bunny in 1934. She won the Caldecott Honor Award for Nothing At All in 1942, and for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1939. She also received the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award posthumously for Millions of Cats and the Kerlan Award in 1977.
The collection contains thirteen pages containing about fifty original graphite and charcoal sketches of cats. The reverse of three of the pages is a calendar page dated 1937 or 1938. Since Gag's Millions of Cats was published in 1928, these would seem to be later sketches not pertaining to that book. The sketches are in different stages of development, some being very rough and others having a more finished appearance. One page is titled "Tired of Play."
Sketches1/1 Sketches of cats, charcoal and graphite, 13 pp.
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The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
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