An Alphabet of Animals

Carton Moore Park

This charming book is a facsimile of a children’s alphabet of animals first published in 1899. Commissioned by Glasgow and London publisher Blackie and Son, it contains a short description and a full-page grisaille drawing for each of the animals, with vignettes accompanying the letters of the alphabet. It was the first publication by Scottish artist Carton Moore Park, who specialized in animal subjects, and whose style was strongly influenced by the art of Japan. The quirky drawings, with their modern-looking cropping and close-up perspective, made the book stand out from all other alphabets of the day. When it was first published, critics acclaimed the artist’s strong handling and accurate anatomical knowledge, as well as his profound appreciation of the habits and movements of each animal depicted and his close sympathy with his subjects. One reviewer wrote that, ‘It is certainly the best book of the kind we have ever seen.’ A hundred and twenty years after it appeared, this exquisite rediscovered volume – very much of its moment but modern in spirit – will enchant and inform
a new generation of children.

Carton Moore Park (1877–1956) was a British painter, illustrator and teacher, born in Scotland. He studies at the Glasgow School of Art between 1893 and 1897. During the 1890s, he was best known for his illustrations of animals, which appeared in Glasgow Weekly Citizen and Saint Mungo. His illustrated books were Alphabet of AnimalsBook of Birds, and A Book of Elfin Rhymes. He lived in London until 1910, when he emigrated to New York, where he spent the rest of his life.