Archive of Letters to Pauline Baynes


Love From Kip

SHEPARD, E.H. Archive of Letters to Pauline Baynes


An exceptional archive of correspondence, revealing the dear friendship between two of the twentieth century's most-loved illustrators. Comprising; forty-two autograph letters and two autograph postcards from E. H. Shepard to Pauline Baynes; one facsimile of a letter; one photograph of Shepard by Gwen Morgan, captioned by Baynes to verso; numerous press cuttings and obituaries relating to Shepard. Two of the letters contain original drawings by Shepard, one a self portrait (11 x 11cm), the other of a witch delivering Baynes a cheque for £1,000 (9.5 x 11cm). In one case, only 2pp of a longer letter remains. In all, 113 pages of autograph correspondence from Shepard to Baynes, signed "Kip". The correspondence opens with a letter from 29th March 1956, and finds Shepard struggling to work, "I do hope your drawings are going better than mine - I think a thing looks right when I knock off in the evening + then, the next morning, it looks horrific and I want to begin all over again." The early letters are filled with Shepard's thoughts on his current work, and on Baynes's. The tone is supportive, offering his help in "getting back your originals", and securing a commission for her in the Christmas number of the Illustrated London News, "I told him about your Persian drawings and I know you'll be glad to hear that he is highly interested" (14th June 1956). Shepard is also very keen to hear more of her work on The Arabian Nights (Blackie, 1957), some drawings of which he had been shown earlier in 1956, "I have been hoping so much for your success with the Arabian Nights" (17th December 1956), "I want to hear about you and those 100 B+W drawings for the Arabian Nights. Are they done yet and are you less tired?". Shepard follows up on the drawings later in the year, asking to purchase one, "I fell in love with it and I asked that I might be allowed to buy it when you could spare it. I still want it more than ever and if you will part with it (on strictly business terms please) then you will make me very happy" (15th June 1957). In the next letter, Shepard thanks Baynes for making him a gift of the drawing, but says "the one condition will be that you choose something of mine" (21st July 1957). A thread running through the first dozen or so letters is the preparation for the publication of Shepard's memoirs Drawn From Memory which appeared in September 1957. His first mention of it comes in August 1956, "I can't tell you how grateful I am for your words of cheer + encouragement, it has put new life into a chap. I have now started on the drawings for my book and find that easier than writing." Baynes clearly provided important feedback to Shepard about both the text and the drawings, "You were right about my book - you said it should be in the first person and so it is, now" (17th December 1956). Later he reports on delivering the manuscript and the drawings to Methuen (7th February 1957), as well as the early production of it, "they sent me a specimen first 8 pages complete with illustrations. They have done it beautifully - a grand type + good spacing + a nice square shape". Throughout this, Shepard is still looking out for Baynes and her career, inviting her over to lunch to meet Alan White "the boss of Methuen's... I do think it might be a good idea for you to meet him - with all the illustrated books they publish" (6th April 1957). In July and August, he describes the ramping up of promotional activity for his memoirs, "I have written to John Betjeman to ask him to review it when the time comes" (21st July 1957), and in September sends Baynes her copy, and reports that "the Army + Navy Stores are really putting their back into publicity + being most helpful including a window display of 'Wind In The Willows' drawings borrowed from Methuens" (19th September 1957). One letter from this period mentions photographs taken in advance of the book's publication by the American photographer Gwen Morgan. Shepard writes how they visited Kent Terrace, where he grew up, "the house was empty, but I remembered how I used to steal in through the the back + sure enough we got in that way. The house is in terrible condition inside" (21st July 1957). Shepard mentions that "The photos Gwen took are jolly good + I would like to give you one if she remembers to send the extra copy I asked for". This photograph is present in the archive, quite large, and features Shepard leaning on the Kent Terrace railings. Baynes has captioned it on the back "Kip Shepard". Shepard's other commissions are also covered in detail, from being offered them, to producing early roughs, right through to the finished drawings and publication. The facsimile letter of November 1957 mentions "a demand for 8 coloured drawings for a new edition of the Milne books, for America" (17th November 1957). His most famous work is also covered in a later letter of January 1959 "I go to London on Tuesday to broadcast in the afternoon. It is 'How I came to draw Pooh & others' at 5.25 in childrens' hour, in case you care to listen. I have to rehearse beforehand. I wrote the script so shall be able to read from that, but I do feel rather nervous, so wish me luck..." (17th January 1959). His imperishable work on The Wind In The Willows is also covered "I am getting much enjoyment from making the colour drawings for Wind In The Willows. Did I tell you they are going to do a larger 21s. edition in the autumn and maybe America will follow suit" (3rd June 1959). He picks this up again in his next letter, "it is rather a nuisance for Scribners have sent back my design for the colour jacket for Wind In The Willows as it is quite the wrong size - it was their fault as they gave me the size of the book + never said that the thing was to be a panel" (2nd July 1959). Shepard also covers his work in general terms, and makes clear the regard he holds for Baynes's opinion of them, "I know I am just an ordinary artist who happens to have a good memory. I suppose its because I sympathise with all the people I draw that makes them come alive. I'm glad they come alive to you too - I'd rather they did for you than for anyone" (24th July 1965). The most moving element of the letters, and this is clear in every one Shepard writes including the one quote above, is that it is a record of a tender and loving friendship. Later in the letter quoted above, Shepard writes "I wish so much I could give you some of my optimism. You must have more confidence, darling you must - you are much better than you think you are." This kindness, friendship and mentorship is in evidence from the very first letter, where Shepard is recommending some representation that might help with "getting back your originals" (29th March 1956). He is concerned about the same issue the following year when he writes "if only you could sell some of your originals and not let the wretched publishers take it all" (August 19th 1957). Later, in 1958, Shepard writes to say that Collins have told him about a new book by Margery Sharp about mice (published as The Rescuers in 1959), and asks "would you like me to write and suggest you should illustrate it... Collins do not pay a lot, but you would escape your agent's fees and get back your originals (by being firm)" (6th September 1958). But the relationship goes deeper than just one of mentorship. When Baynes was experiencing personal troubles in 1958, Shepard wrote, "I can't help worrying about your troubles and wondering if the thing has already descended on you, or is about to descend. You said you would let us know if the worst happened and I am quite prepared to come to your aid at any time of the day or night. A telephone call or a telegram will rouse this household to instant action" (14th April 1958). Later that year, he tries to invite her up to London to cheer her up, "I can't bear to think of you crying alone in the garden, if only I could have been there then you could have cried on my shoulder. My dear I know its been a very sad time for you and I'd do anything to help cheer you up" (23rd October 1958).

An engaging, illuminating and highly personal correspondence, revealing the close relationship between two of the foremost illustrators of the last century, E. H. Shepard and Pauline Baynes. It links two illustrators that provided unsurpassed drawings for their major commissions, be it Winnie The Pooh and The Wind In The Willows for Shepard, or the Chronicles Of Narnia for Baynes.
All of the letters, signed "Kip", Shepard's nickname from art school days, attest to the closeness of their friendship. They met in the 1950s, and Baynes became close friends with both Shepard and his wife Norah, aided by the fact that they only lived 15 miles apart.
While their friendship, and Shepard's mentorship of Baynes, has been acknowledged in writing about both illustrators, hitherto it hasn't received more than a passing mention. These letters reveal a much deeper relationship than previously thought, and they provide great detail on its development through the 1950s and '60s.
The letters remain unpublished and unconsulted by scholars. The only mention of them in print that can be traced is in Elaine Moss's 1978 profile 'Pauline Baynes: Mistress Of The Margin' in which she recalls pulling the letter from July 1965 from Baynes's copy of Brock And Ben, but quotes only one sentence from the letter.

PROVENANCE: Pauline Baynes (1922-2008), sold at Bloomsbury Auctions, August 2008; Pat McInally (1953-) noted collector of Winnie The Pooh material.

Stock ID: 41482


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