Museum Highlight

Allen W Seaby

A selection of some of the illustrations were on display in Ladybird Books: ‘How it Works’Reading Museum, 2019 an exhibition celebrating the history of our favourite children’s books. A permanent exhibition dedicated to Ladybird Books held by the University of Reading at the Museum of English Rural Life. [Highlighted: Apr 2019]

A Second Book of British Birds and their Nests
by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald, 1954
Ladybird Book Cover by Allen W Seaby (1867–1953)

Date about: 1953

RGA member: 1930–1953

This Museum Highlight is a bit different as we’re highlighting work from more than one museum.

Our connection to Professor Allen W. Seaby (25 May 1867 – 28 July 1953) is that he was one of the founders of the Reading Guild of Artists along with museum curator William Smallcombe in 1930. An ornithological painter and printmaker and Professor of Fine Art at the University of Reading, Seaby was the first RGA President and his descendants are still very much part of RGA life.

Seaby provided 48 illustrations for two Ladybird books on British birds by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald: British Birds and their Nests (1953) and A Second Book of British Birds and their Nests (1954).

In Allen W. Seaby Art and Nature by Martin Andrews and Robert Gillmor, we learn how Seaby was working on the last of these paintings shortly before his death in July 1953, and how he made use of sketches he produced decades earlier. The Ladybird senior editor wrote to say that he had no idea he had been dealing with a man in his eighty-sixth year, as Seaby’s mind and handwriting were vigorous to the end

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