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The Water Babies – Charles Kingsley – 1920’s edition – illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith.

Short Description

The Water Babies was first published in 1863 in the midst of the Darwin’s developing theories on evolution .. more about that later.

Water Babies has been re-issued numerous times, none more beautifully illustrated than this book. Published by Boots the Chemist (perhaps their best work during their foray into the book world).

A substantial book ... thickish quarto, ix, 240 pages with 12 super coloured plates, tipped in. Original green decorative cloth covered binding. Some spots on the page edges as usual (spongy paper), none on the plates, a very attractive copy of a desirable Water Babies.

For those not in the know, a complex book, partly a satire supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution as commenced in “On The Origin Species”. The text briefly refers to Darwin, Huxley, Murchison and Owen.

Huxley’s grandchild wrote to him after reading the book … “Dear Grandpater (they were posh) – Have you seen a Waterbaby? Did you put it in a bottle? Did it wonder if it could get out? Could I see it some day? – Your loving Julian” … Julian went on to be one smart chap also and wrote a great biography on Grandpater. Enough of that back to the book.

As well as the whole evolution theme there are also pointers to Victorian issues … the gulf between the Have and the Have Nots. Protagonist Tom is a young chimney sweep not the son of an aristocrat. Later explorer Paul Du Chaillu shoots a gorilla who had reverse evolved from a human … the gorilla wanted to say ‘Am I not a man and a brother” .. further references to slavery etc etc. So all up quite a though provoking tale and still with modern day lessons … just need to think a bit.

Water Babies a very special book and special beautifully illustrated edition

Price: $220.00

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