Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Teeny-Tiny Library of Awesomeness

Last month while I was in the UK, my boyfriend David and I took a little visit to Windsor Castle. While I thoroughly enjoyed the day--watching some jousting and falconry, visiting the State apartments, seeing the beautiful blue silk wall papering in the dressing room, and Marie Antoinette's personal clock, there was one thing I wish I had gotten to take a closer look at: Queen Mary's amazing dollhouse.

I just hadn't known of that desire at the time... But this morning, I woke up to a link from David, telling me all about the doll house and its extraordinary construction:

Among the highlights of a visit to Windsor is Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the largest, most beautiful and most famous dolls’ house in the world. Built for Queen Mary by the leading British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens between 1921 and 1924, this most magical of residences is a perfect replica in miniature of an aristocratic home.  
The house is filled with thousands of objects made by leading artists, designers and craftsmen, nearly all on the tiny scale of 1:12.  From life below stairs to the high-society setting of the saloon and dining room, no detail was forgotten. Among the most striking features of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House are the library, bursting with original works by the top literary names of the day, a fully stocked wine cellar and a garden created by Gertrude Jekyll. The Dolls’ House even includes electricity, running hot and cold water, working lifts and flushing lavatories. 
In the adjoining display two remarkable French dolls, France and Marianne, are shown with part of their extensive wardrobe of clothes and accessories. They were presented to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth for their daughters, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, by the French Government during the 1938 State Visit to France. The dolls’ clothes and accessories were designed and made by the leading Parisian fashion houses, including Worth, Lanvin, Cartier, Herm├Ęs and Vuitton. 
See the original post HERE

What I'd like to draw your attention to today is THE LIBRARY. Yes, it gets both caps and italics--it's that awesome.

Located on the second floor of the four-story masterpiece, the library has more teeny tiny books that I've ever seen. Over two hundred, in fact! Upon its shelves are real, original, handwritten books custom-authored by authors such as Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, W. Somerset Maugham, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

There are even hand-illustrated books among the collection, one of which was even reproduced to a full-size, readable version for sale in April 2012, according to The Daily Mail:
A tiny children's book created for a royal doll's house is to be published in human scale. 
With pages scarcely bigger than a postage stamp and intricate drawings by a celebrated cartoonist, the miniature volume is a prized object in the Royal Collection.
But from next month youngsters everywhere will have the chance to read the story about a fairy called Joe Smith and his adventures when he falls out of fairyland and lands in London. 
The hand-written book measures just 1.6in by 1.4in and is one of 200 volumes in the miniature library of the dolls' house created for Queen Mary, consort of King George V, in 1922.  
See the original post  HERE

Bloggess Madame Guillotine gives a little more detail of the room:

This was Princess Marie Louise’s personal project when the house was being put together and she took great pleasure in commissioning books and art work from well known contemporary artists and writers for the room. There are three hundred tiny books in the library, all specially made and bound for the room and including a Koran, the complete works of Shakespeare, a dictionary and three Bibles as well as works by Sir James Barrie, Thomas Hardy, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (who contributed a Sherlock Holmes short story), Rudyard Kipling, Hilaire Belloc, Siegfried Sassoon, M.R. James and H. Rider Haggard. In fact the only writer to refuse and ‘in a very rude manner’ to contribute his work was George Bernard Shaw. What a misery guts. 
The library also contains seven hundred tiny paintings by well known artists of the period, many of whom were members of the Royal Academy such as Dame Laura Knight, Sir William Nicholson, Munnings and Sir William Russell Flint, their works being stored in small folios in special cabinets. There are also musical scores by well known contemporary composers such as Gustav Holst with Elgar being the most notable exception – like Bernard Shaw he sent the committee a very rudely worded refusal to participate, claiming that the royal couple were ‘incapable of appreciating anything artistic’. 
Read the entire post HERE (It's great, btw!)

One word: WOW.

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