Ladybird: The Cover Story

Ladybird: A Cover Story Did you love Ladybird books when you were a child? To celebrate its centenary next year, Ladybird (now a Penguin imprint) will publish ‘Ladybird: The Cover Story’ in October.

It will be a compendium of 500 covers featuring some of the most memorable and striking covers from Ladybird archives covering  the 1940s to the 1980s. Nicola Bird, who has edited the book,  identifies the period of 1950-70 as the “Golden Age of Ladybird”, saying the books reflected “an idealised, prosperous view of Britain through its cheery illustrations”.

The Ladybird imprint was established in 1915 by Wills & Hepworth, a printing company, to publish ‘pure and healthy literature’ for children. They registered a ladybird as a logo – originally an open-winged version of a ladybird-  the more familiar one was introduced in the 1950s, with a final update in 2006.Matt Baxter, creative director, Baxter and Bailey

The pocket-sized hardbacks covered a wide range of subject matter with simple text: the company’s motto was ‘a Ladybird book for every subject’ and this seemed to be the case, with amazingly varied topics from timeless stories such as Red Rifing Hood and Jack and thr Beanstalk etc to ‘Colours‘ to ‘Stamp Collecting’, ‘the Great Composers’ to ‘Swinmming and Diving’ and many more.

It was the illustrations which set them apart. They were instantly recognisable, the colours ranging from muted to bright (often they used commercial artists). Nicola Bird writes: “The skill of the artists and the simple but effective cover design is such that these detailed pictures still resonate with us today. The books that contain them are often the very first ones that people remember from their own childhoods.”

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2 thoughts on “Ladybird: The Cover Story

  1. Ah Ladybird Books! A staple from my childhood too. I won my Blue Peter badge for copying the cover of the Ladybird book of Cricket and sending it in. I was in what is now called Year 2 at the time. I wish i still had the badge.

  2. Oh this is something I need to own a copy of. I was a 70’s child and had a lovely pile of ladybird books and then when my children were born we got passed lots and then I collected a few more. As you say the illustrations were what made these so wonderful to read.

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