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Andrea Immel and Brian Alderson Win the 2016 Schiller Prize

Having read and discussed a very strong field of eight submissions, the Schiller Prize Committee unanimously agreed that Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song-Book: The First Collection of English Nursery Rhymes. A facsimile edition with a history and annotations by Andrea Immel and Brian Alderson (Cotsen Occasional Press, 2013) is its choice for the 2016 Justin G. Schiller Prize. The award was announced at BSA’s Annual Meeting on January 29, 2016.

The three parts of this handsome publication together present an outstanding piece of bibliographical and historical scholarship, challenging longstanding assumptions about publishing for children in England in the 1740s. It is a valuable contribution to the ongoing revision of children’s book history. Andrea Immel, the Curator of the Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University, and Brian Alderson, children’s book historian, critic, author, editor, are leading authorities on eighteenth-century children’s book publishing.  In this work, consisting of not only the illustrated essay and annotations but also of three facsimile volumes, they not only contextualize Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song-Book within the histories of nursery rhymes, oral lore and earlier children’s books, they also locate publishing for children as a mainstream activity, challenging longstanding assumptions about who was publishing for children at this time. Reconstructing the social geography of London, they demonstrate links between Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song-Book and adult literature, antiquarianism, music, theatre, politics and numerous other aspects of mid-eighteenth century society. As Michael Joseph says in his review in the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly (Fall 2015), this study has demonstrably been “conceived in a library and mediated through continual wise and loving congress with rare historical materials.”