Second Prize - Friedrich C. Heller
Die bunte Welt. Handbuch zum künstlerisch illustrierten Kinderbuch in Wien 1890-1938
The second prize of $5,000 goes to: Friedrich C. Heller, Die bunte Welt. Handbuch zum künstlerisch illustrierten Kinderbuch in Wien 1890-1938. Wien: Christian Brandstätter Verlag, 2008.
The study of historical children’s books has traditionally been strong in the German-speaking countries. Bibliographers and literary historians have contributed much in this field, while book collectors have played a crucial role in the appreciation and preservation of illustrated children’s books, which have a notoriously poor survival rate. The paradox of their intensive use by the young, subsequent neglect by grown-ups and finally their desirability to bibliophiles, makes for an uncertain life-span with many attacks on their health along the way. Professor Heller combines the passionate search of the collector and the meticulous research of the scholar. His comprehensive monograph on the flowering of illustrated children’s book production in fin-de-siècle Vienna until the suffocating impact of the Anschluss is a masterpiece of bibliographical, historical and art-historical description and itself a fine piece of modern book design.
The Wiener Werkstätte and famous artists like Kolo Moser, Heinrich Lefler, C.O. Czeschka and Moriz Jung, as well as a host of lesser known artists and publishers, turned Vienna into the undisputed centre for artistic children’s books in German. Prof. Heller explores the development and flowering of children’s book design and illustration in the wider context of Viennese art, modernism and culture; political and social factors prevailing in Vienna before and after the Great War are taken into account; art schools, children’s art in pedagogy, periodicals and school-books are discussed at some length. The determining role of publishers, both commercial and private, is established. The bibliography in chronological order is extensively annotated and includes a record of known books of which no copy could be located. The book concludes with valuable biographical dictionaries of authors, printers, publishers and illustrators, a dozen indices and a list of published and unpublished sources.