Shamed by his grimy appearance in the presence of an immaculate little girl, ten-year-old Tom -- an ill-treated London chimney-sweep -- promptly runs away. Diving into a river, he enters a magical underwater world of fairies and other whimsical creatures who teach him about truth, mercy, justice, courage, and other virtues. Although Charles Kingsley's fable can be read as simply a charming morality tale, it also blends elements of a scientific satire and a political tract. Kingsley not only parodied the controversy surrounding the then-new concept of natural selection but also helped foster legislation protecting abused children like his young hero.
This wondrous hardcover collectible includes a dozen full-page color plates plus numerous line drawings by Jessie Willcox Smith, one of the most prominent women artists of the Golden Age of Illustration. Immensely popular upon its 1863 publication, this beloved classic continues to captivate modern readers just as it stirred imaginations over a century ago.
Author and Anglican clergyman Charles Kinglsey (1819-75) took an active interest in the plight of the working class and was a co-founder of England's Christian Socialist movement. In addition to writing novels, poetry, sermons, political essays, and children's stories, Kingsley taught history at Cambridge University, served as chaplain to Queen Victoria and tutor to the Prince of Wales, and was appointed canon of Westminster Abbey. A prominent American artist during the Golden Age of Illustration, Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935) contributed to many popular magazines of the era, including Century, Collier's, and Harper's. In the course of her longtime association with Good Housekeeping, she created all of the periodical's covers from 1915 to 1933. Smith illustrated more than 60 books, among them Little Women and A Child's Garden of Verses.