de Grummond Collection

McCain Library and Archives
University Libraries
University of Southern Mississippi


Collection Number
Collection Dates
Collection Volume
1.50 cu.ft. (3 boxes)

Biographical Sketch | Scope & Content | Related Collections | Series & Subseries | Box Inventory


Material donated by Aileen Fisher on October 25, 1977 and by Jacqueline van Zanten and Susan Shapiro of Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, Inc. Publishers on December 9, 1977.


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.

Biographical Sketch

Margot Ladd Tomes was born August 10, 1917 in Park Hill, Yonkers, New York at her grandfather's house. At the age of two and a half she moved to Nassau County, Long Island, which was still quite rural. She remembers the town having considerable charm, with foreign families, eccentrics, and peddlers. Tomes grew up there around her grandparents, aunts, and cousins. She came from an artistic family: her cousins were Guy Pene de Bois, the painter, William Pene du Bois, the illustrator, and Raoul Pene de Bois, the theatrical designer. Her mother was an amateur artist, and her sister Jacqueline became an artist as well.

Tomes' mother taught her to read at age four with flash cards and also gave lessons in arithmetic and geography. When Tomes started school she entered the third grade at age seven. By the second term, however, she was stricken with bronchial pneumonia. She lay on her grandmother's porch the entire winter reading books, including Alice in Wonderland for the first time, and developed a life-long love of books. Tomes next started school in Long Beach where her mother had accepted a teaching job. Attending school in a different town from where she lived further isolated her from other children.

Tomes described her early drawings as very bad, claiming she had no aptitude for drawing and painting and found them difficult. She attended Pratt Institute but hated art school. She would have preferred to study English. Before illustrating children's books she designed wallpaper and fabric, occasionally designing a book jacket or illustrations for cook books.

In 1959 she illustrated her first book, The Breaking Point by Daphne de Maurier. Her first children's book was Brave Balloon of Benjamin Buckley (1963) by Barbara Wersba. During her lifetime she illustrated more than forty books for others, including several historical novels by Jean Fritz. She worked as an illustrator for various publishers, including Coward, Crowell, Seabury, Holiday House, Putnam, Bowman/Nobel, Lothrop, Clarion, and Lippincott. Claiming to be old-fashioned about techniques, she used pen and ink and poster paint.

Tomes lived in New York City where she worked in her apartment at a large drawing board in the kitchen until her death on July 2, 1991. During the course of her career she received several awards and honors, including Children's Book Showcase (1977) for Little Sister and the Month Brothers retold by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, the New York Times Choice of Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year (1977) and the New York Public Library's 100 Books of the Year (1980) for Jack and the Wonder Beans by James Still, and the Society of Illustrators Certificate of Merit (1979) for The Socerer's Apprentice adapted by Wanda Gag. Tomes also illustrated Homesick:My Own Story by Jean Fritz which was a Newbery Honor Book in 1983.


Scope and Content

The collection is divided into two series: correspondence and books. The correspondence is addressed to the de Grummond Collection from Tomes and Jacqueline van Zanten, who donated some of the material. The collection holds color separations for four of the five book titles. The original artworks were executed in pen and ink with text paste-ups and acetate overlays in ink. In the Woods is represented only by flats for the cover.

By George, Bloomers! (1976) by Judith St. George is the story of eight-year-old Hannah who meets with her mother's disapproval when she wants to wear the new women's garment, bloomers, which cause a mild sensation when they are introduced in the mid-nineteenth century. A Curiosity for the Curious (1978) by Helen Reeder Cross relates how Hachaliah Bailey brought the first elephant to the United States, toured the East Coast with her, and thus began the first circus. In the Woods, In the Meadow, In the Sky (1965) by Aileen Fisher is a book of nature poetry. Lysbet and the Fire Kittens (1973) by Marietta Moskin is the story of nine-year-old Lysbet who is left in charge of the house. She almost burns it down when she leaves the fireplace unattended to participate in New Amsterdam's First Skating Day. Those Foolish Molboes (1977) by Lillian Bason contains three folktales about the clever but foolish people of Mols.

Related Collections

The Helen Cross Papers (DG0237); The Aileen Fisher Papers (DG0326); The Dorothy Van Woerkom Papers (DG1007)

Series and Subseries

A. Correspondence (1977 and undated)

B. Books (1965-1978)

Box Inventory


A. Correspondence

1/1 To the de Grummond Collection, 1977 and undated, 3 items.

B. Books

BY GEORGE, BLOOMERS! by Judith St. George, illustrated by Margot Tomes (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1976). 1/2 - 9 Color separations, 1/2 pp. 2-3, 4-5, 6-7; 1/3 pp. 8-9, 10-11, 12-13; 1/4 pp. 14-15, 16-17, 18-19; 1/5 pp. 20-21, 22-23, 24-25; 1/6 pp. 26-27, 28-29, 30-31, 32-33; 1/7 pp. 34-35, 36-36, 38-39; 1/8 pp. 40-41, 42-43, 44-45; 1/9 pp. 46-47, and dust jacket with flats. A CURIOSITY FOR THE CURIOUS by Helen Reeder Cross, illustrated by Margot Tomes (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1978). 2/1-10 Color separations, 2/1 pp. [1, 2-3, 4; 2/2 pp. 6-7, 8-9, 10-11; 2/3 pp. 12-13, 14-15, 16-17; 2/4 pp. 18-19, 20-21, 22-23; 2/5 pp. 24-25, 26-27, 28-29; 2/6 pp. 30-31, 32-33, 34-35; 2/7 pp. 36-37, 38-39; 2/8 pp. 40-41, 42-43, 44-45; 2/9 pp. 46-47, 48]; 2/10 dust jacket, 3 items. IN THE WOODS, IN THE MEADOW, IN THE SKY by Aileen Lucia Fisher, illustrated by Margot Tomes (New York: Scribner, 1965). 2/11 Flats, cover, 6 items [oversize - 2 items stored separately]. LYSBET AND THE FIRE KITTENS by Marietta Moskin, illustrated by Margot Tomes (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1973). 3/1-3 Color separations, 3/1 pp. 8-9, 12-13, 18-19; 3/2 pp. 24-25, 30-31, 34-35; 3/3 pp. 38-39, 42-43, 44-45, 46-47. THOSE FOOLISH MOLBOES by Lillian Bason, illustrated by Margot Tomes (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1977). 3/4-11 Color separations, 3/4 pp. 48-1, 2-3, 6-7; 3/5 pp. 8-9, 10-11, 12-13; 3/6 pp. 14-15, 16-17, 18-19; 3/7 pp. 20-21, 22-23, 24-25; 3/8 pp. 26-27, 28-29, 30-31; 3/9 pp. 32-33, 34-35, 36-37; 3/10 pp. 38-39, 40-41, 42-43; 3/11 pp. 44-45, 46-47.

Processed: April 1992
Revised: July 2001

Biographical Sketch | Scope & Content | Related Collections | Series & Subseries | Box Inventory
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The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection

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