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Queen Mary's Dolls' House

Release date: Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Press call for the Royal Collection Fougasse publication, Windsor Castle, 16/4/12

Press call for the Royal Collection Fougasse publication, Windsor Castle, 16/4/12 ©

Thanks to a collaboration between Royal Collection Publications and Walker Books, the fairy story contained within J Smith by Fougasse will be revealed in full and on human scale for the first time, 90 years after it was written. This miniature book, with pages no bigger than postage stamps, was specially created for the most famous dolls' house in the world – Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House at Windsor Castle

The original handwritten book measures just 4cm x 3.5cm 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.  The house, designed by the renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, is the perfect replica of an aristocratic Edwardian residence, complete with fully furnished rooms, electricity, running water and lifts.  It can be seen by visitors to Windsor Castle all year round. The library in Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House contains tiny works by 171 authors, including Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir James Barrie and Edith Wharton.  The story of Joe Smith is one of the most enchanting volumes – and its tale is among the few to be written exclusively for the Dolls’ House.  The book was the contribution of one of the foremost cartoonists of the day, ‘Fougasse’, whose real name was Cyril Kenneth Bird.  Bird, editor of Punch magazine from 1949 to 1953, is best known for his ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ posters, drawn for the government during the Second World War.

Fougasse’s book, written in verse and charmingly illustrated, tells the story of a fairy, Joe Smith, who falls out of Fairyland one stormy night and lands in London. After a series of misadventures, including a turn on the London stage and an attempt to become an artist, Joe decides that fairyland is a far safer place to be and returns again to his ‘fairy brotherhood’.