de Grummond Collection

McCain Library and Archives
University Libraries
University of Southern Mississippi


Collection Number
Collection Dates
Collection Volume
1.20 cu.ft. (2 boxes)

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


Materials received from Nora S. Unwin between 1966 and 1973.


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

Nora Spicer Unwin was born on February 22, 1907 in Surrey, England, where she spent her childhood. She and her twin sister were the youngest of a family of five. The Unwin family had for several generations been involved in printing and publishing, and the children were exposed to the process of book-making from an early age. Both Nora and her twin sister loved art and music as children, and their parents encouraged the artistic tendencies of their daughters. After finishing high school, Nora had eight years of specialized training in a variety of artistic techniques -- pottery, wood carving, embroidery, and etching and engraving, among others. Of these techniques, she enjoyed wood engraving and illustration the most. She received her first book illustration commission in 1925 at the age of eighteen and illustrated two more books before she graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1932 with a diploma in design.

From 1933 to 1946 Unwin served as a part-time teacher as well as a painter and illustrator of children's books. She attributed the five years spent with a group of children in the countryside during World War II as a great learning experience, insofar as the children's criticism of her work taught her what they liked and did not like about her pictures. In 1937 Unwin met Elizabeth Yates, an author for whom she illustrated a number of books. The two women eventually became close friends, and when Unwin emigrated to the United States in 1946 she settled in New Hampshire, where Yates and her husband owned a farm.

Unwin moved from New Hampshire in 1956 to Wellesley, Massachusetts, where she served as art director of the Tenacre Country Day School for two years. Moving back to New Hampshire, Unwin then taught at the Sharon Art Center. In the later years of her life she concentrated more on her painting, printmaking and teaching than on book illustration. Unwin died on January 5, 1982.

Unwin illustrated more than one hundred books by other authors, most of them for children, and wrote and illustrated nine of her own. In the course of her long career she won awards from such prestigious organizations as the Society of American Graphic Artists (1951), the National Association of Women Artists (1953), and the National Academy of Design (1958), as well as many others. Among the many books she illustrated were such classics as The Secret Garden (1949) and George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin (1951). Two of the books she illustrated for Elizabeth Yates won special distinction: Mountain Born (1943) was a Newbery honor book, and Amos Fortune, Free Man (1950) was the Newbery winner for 1951.


Scope and Content

The contents of this collection have been arranged into three series: correspondence, book-related materials, and exhibition-related materials. The correspondence consists of photocopies of five letters sent by Nora Unwin to the de Grummond Collection staff. Exhibition materials consist of a brochure, an announcement, and an invitation, each relating to a separate Nora Unwin art exhibit. The bulk of the collection is made up of original materials related to eleven books illustrated by Unwin. Correspondence and exhibition materials have been arranged chronologically, whereas book materials have been arranged alphabetically by book title and within each title according to the probable order in which the materials were created.

Children of the Bible (1950) is the only title authored by Elizabeth Yates that is represented in the collection. For this book, which retells stories from the Bible that relate to children, the collection holds two sketches, twenty-three original illustrations, and color separations for the dust jacket. Cupola House 1961), which relates a turn-of-the-century family's experiences in settling into their home, is represented by twelve original illustrations, a sketch of the dust jacket, and the dust jacket color separations. For The Family That Grew and Grew (1952), about an old lady who runs a toy store, there are numerous illustrations and color separations for the dust jacket.

The largest holdings are for The First Easter Rabbit (1961), a picture book which tells how St. Francis of Assisi befriended a group of animals on an island, and of the little rabbit who gave him a special gift of thanks. For this title there are a dummy, a complete set of color separations, a blueprint, dust jacket material, and other items. For The Good Rain (1950), a picture book about the effects of a drought and the rain that finally ends it, the collection holds two dummies, color separations, and one paste-up. How the Manx Cat Lost Its Tail and Other Manx Folk Stories (1959) is represented by original illustrations and dust jacket material. A Likely Story (1957) tells how a little Irish boy is almost tricked by the Sidhe into living in their hollow hill with them forever. For this title the collection holds illustrations, a sketch of the dust jacket, and color separations for the dust jacket. For Lucy's League (1951), the story of how a little English girl tries to save money for a trip to America, there are numerous illustrations as well as dust jacket material. For The Provost's Jewel (1951), about a Scottish boy who foils a jewel theft, there are illustrations, a paste-up of the dust jacket, and the original full-color painting of the dust jacket. The Reward of Faith (1950) is a collection of religious short stories by Elizabeth Goudge. For this title the collection holds original illustrations, one illustration proof, a thumbnail sketch of the dust jacket, and color separations for the dust jacket. For Summer Green (1948), a collection of poetry by Elizabeth Coatsworth, there are eight illustrations and a proof of the dust jacket cover.

Related Collections

The Elizabeth Yates Papers (DG1079) include a pamphlet illustrated by Unwin, a promotional bookmark for Carolina's Courage (1964) which features an Unwin illustration, and a photograph of Yates and Unwin together. The Elizabeth Coatsworth Papers (DG0199) do not contain any materials for Summer Green but may still be of interest to the researcher. See also The Mabel Leigh Hunt Papers (DG0489) and The Margaret J. Baker Papers (DG0056).

Series and Subseries

A. Correspondence (1966-1973)

B. Books (1948-1961)

C. Exhibitions (1963-1970)

Box Inventory


A. Correspondence

1/1 To the de Grummond Collection, 1966, 1972-1973, 5 items.

B. Books

CHILDREN OF THE BIBLE by Elizabeth Yates, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1950). 1/2 Sketches, ink, pp. 23, 75, 2 items. Illustrations, ink, title page, pp. 5-92, unpublished, 23 items. Color separations, dust jacket. CUPOLA HOUSE by Mabel Leigh Hunt, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin (Philadelphia:Lippincott, 1961). 1/3 Illustrations, ink, pp. 4-115, 12 items. Sketch, ink and watercolor, dust jacket. Color separations, dust jacket. THE FAMILY THAT GREW AND GREW by Margaret J. Baker, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin (Eau Claire, WI: E. M. Hale, 1952). 1/4 Illustrations, ink, title page spread, pp. 4-120, 25 items. Color separations, dust jacket. THE FIRST EASTER RABBIT by Hertha Ernestine Pauli, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin (New York: Washburn, 1961). 1/5 Dummy with galley text paste-ups. Sketch of rabbit, ink and watercolor. 1/6 Color separations, title page spread, pp. [2-25], endpapers, dust jacket, 15 items. 1/7 Blueprint. Proof, annotated, p. 23. Thumbnail sketch, ink and watercolor, dust jacket. Proofs of flaps, one annotated, 3 items. THE GOOD RAIN by Alice E. Goudy, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1950). 1/8 Artist's dummy with galley text paste-ups. Publisher's dummy with galley text paste-ups. Color separations, title page, pp. [4-29], dust jacket, 18 items. Paste-up, front flap. HOW THE MANX CAT LOST ITS TAIL AND OTHER MANX FOLK STORIES collected and retold by Blanche Cowley Young, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin (New York: David McKay, 1959). 2/1 Illustrations, ink, p. [i], title page, pp. 5-106, 22 items. Sketch, ink and crayon, dust jacket. Color separations, dust jacket. A LIKELY STORY by Mary Lavin, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin (New York: Macmillan, 1957). 2/2 - 3 Illustrations, ink, 2/2 pp. 1, 4, 8, 14, 20, 25, 29, 34, 37; 2/3 pp. 40, 46, 55, 61, 64, 68, 75. 2/4 Sketch, ink and watercolor, dust jacket. Color separations, dust jacket. LUCY'S LEAGUE by Grace Allen Hogarth, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1951). 2/5 Illustrations, ink, title page spread, pp. 4-207, 39 items. Sketch, ink and watercolor, dust jacket. Color separations, dust jacket. THE PROVOST'S JEWEL by Elizabeth Kyle [pseud.], illustrated by Nora Unwin (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1951). 2/6 Illustrations, ink, pp. 2-285, unidentified, endpapers, 31 items. Paste-up, dust jacket. Illustration, watercolor, dust jacket. THE REWARD OF FAITH by Elizabeth Goudge, illustrated by Nora Unwin (New York: Coward-McCann, 1950). 2/7 Illustrations, ink, pp. 3, 57, 85, 94, 113, 137, 163, 7 items. Proof, p. 38. Thumbnail sketch, ink and watercolor, dust jacket. Color separations, dust jacket. SUMMER GREEN by Elizabeth Coatsworth, illustrated by Nora S. Unwin (New York: Macmillan, 1948). 2/8 Illustrations, ink, pp. 11, 19, 37, 49, 55, 65, 77, dust jacket, 8 items. Proof, dust jacket front.

C. Exhibitions

2/9 Exhibition brochure, Charles B. Phillips Library, Aurora College, Aurora, Illinois, 31 October - 23 November, 1963. Exhibition announcement, West Corner Gallery, Grafton, Vermont, 10 August - 18 August, 1969 [1979?]. Exhibition invitation, Westwood Gallery, Westwood, Massachusetts, 6 September - 3 October, 1970.

Processed: May 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
Box 5148
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
(601) 266-4349
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