Highlights of children's literature

Among the thousands of fascinating children's books in the Lilly Library, these stand out for their rarity and importance.

Highlights of the Elisabeth Ball Collection

  • A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, published by John Newberry (1744). The earliest surviving copy from the 10th edition resides at the British Library; the next earliest edition and only known copy from 1763 is this one in the Lilly Library.
  • Eight of 10 volumes of Gigantik Histories published by Thomas Boreman (1740-1742).
  • The History of Little Goody Two Shoes, published by John Newberry (1768).
  • Fifth edition of Mother Goose's Melody; or Sonnets for the Cradle (1791)

The Ball collection also contains a number of curious and fascinating related materials, such as more than 2,100 18th century chapbooks; 37 printed and two manuscript harlequinades; 27 hornbooks of silver, ivory, wood, leather, brass, and paper; 11 boxed infants' libraries; and numerous miniature books, including thumb Bibles, mechanical books, and board and card games.

Highlights of the J. K. Lilly collection

  • Harry Castlemon's adventure stories for boys.
  • The Swiss Family Robinson. The Lilly has copies of this classic in its first appearance in magazine form as well as the first edition, Der Schwizersche Robinson (Zurich, 1812-1815), the first French translation, and the first American printing.
  • First edition of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (Boston, 1870).
  • First edition of Horatio Alger's Ragged Dick (Boston, 1868).
  • First edition of George W. Peck's Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa (Chicago, 1883).
  • First edition of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty (London, 1887).


Other notable books

  • The finest collection of George Alfred Henty, British writer of adventure stories for boys.
  • The finest collection of the works of Andrew Lang, Scottish historian, poet, and novelist, especially famous for his children's books.
  • First Italian and English editions of Pinocchio.
  • First edition of Johanna Spyri's Heidi (Gotha, 1880).