Poetry and Parrish
NH's renowned artist illustrates "Wynken, Blynken and Nod" and other children's poems
Thank you for sending me an image of your book, "Poems of Childhood" by Eugene Field, with illustrations by the renowned New Hampshire artist Maxfield Parrish. I immediately recognized your book because I have long been a fan of Maxfield Parrish's illustrations; when I was young I even had a copy of this very same book of poems.
Born in 1850 in St. Louis, Eugene Field was an interesting man and accomplished author. Field dropped out of college to travel after his father's death. He returned from Europe with no money and began a journalism career in St. Louis, later settling in Chicago, where he began writing children's poetry with much success. Your book includes one of Field's most famous poems, "Wynken, Blynken and Nod," which is one of my favorites too. Sadly, Field died in 1895 at the young age of 45 and "Poems of Childhood" was published posthumously.
In 1904 Maxfield Parrish worked closely with the publisher Charles Scribner's Sons to put together this compilation of Field's poems and stories for children. No one could have done a better job illustrating Field's prose than Parrish. His imagination combined with his artistic talent to create ethereal, luminous illustrations blended perfectly with the creativity of Field's poetry and stories. The collaboration of Field's poetry with Parrish's illustrations make for one of the most beautiful books of children's verse created. In revisiting this book, I can only imagine how much Field would have enjoyed seeing Parrish's depictions.
As we head into the hubbub of this holiday season, more than 100 years after the publication of "Poems for Childhood," it is a perfect time to settle into a cozy chair by the fireplace and read from a wonderful vintage or antique book. Better yet, gather your family and revive that time-honored tradition of reading aloud. It will be a welcome break from our modern world of tablets and e-readers!
Books illustrated by Maxfield Parrish are highly sought-after collectors' items. The first edition of "Poems of Childhood" can bring more than $500. That said, this book has been reprinted many times; yours is a later edition, printed in 1920, yet it is in very good condition. I would value your book at $75.