Sunday, September 15, 2013

It's all about the connections

Thursday, 7/25: Blythe House

There is a little-known outpost that belongs to the V&A, located near Kensington Palace.  This building is actually shared by three organization: the V&A, the British Museum, and the Science Museum, but this satellite office contains one of the most interesting collections we have seen this entire trip: the Beatrix Potter archive.

Everyone knows who Beatrix Potter is, so I don't need to explain all of that.  But what I will say is that most people don't know how much of an artist she really was, even as a child.  This collection contains some of her earliest work, as well as some of her most well-known; the first drawings of Peter Cottontail, for example.  It is a unique, and invaluable collection of one of the greatest children's authors in literary history.

The story of the collection is an interesting one.  The bulk of the materials were collected by the Linder family, primarily Leslie Linder.  Fifteen years after Potter's death, Linder was the one who broke the code on her diaries, allowing researchers to gain an inside look into the author's life.  One such researcher is Andrew Wiltshire, a family friend of the Linders, who has established a series of connections between both the Linder and Potter families, as well as his own.  His fascinating work is an excellent example of how one can utilize archival collections to show relationships and tell a story.

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