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Two gems by Willy Schermelé

October 27, 2011

Two super-rare titles by this acclaimed Dutch illustrator have recently graced our bookshelves. Peter and his puppy and My Fairy Stories.

Wilhelmina ‘Willy’ Schermelé was born in in Amsterdam in April 1904. Although well-known as a gifted illustrator, she actually began her career as an actress in the 1920s, performing in the Amsterdam Grand Théâtre’s renditions of Cyrano de Bergerac and Peer Gynt.

It wasn’t until the early ’30s that Schermelé began writing and illustrating children’s stories and poems – mainly for the newspaper  De Telegraaf (The Telegraph).  She also wrote and illustrated many stories for Geïllustreerd Stuiversblad  (The Penny Illustrated Journal), including De avonturen van Bartje en Zwartje (1931); Kater Kwik (1932); Jaap en zijn Aap (1932) De avonturen van Kees and Kikkie (1934); and Met z’n Drieën (1936)Perhaps her most famous – or indeed infamous! – book is Het Groote Negerboek (The Big Negro Book), which was published c.1932

She briefly moved to England in the 1950s, where she illustrated a number of books for Enid Blyton. These include: My Enid Blyton Story Book (1950) and Enid Blyton’s Good Morning Book (1952). Schermelé returned to Holland in 1957, where she began work on her 8-part Winkie series.

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