Feature April 2013

The Aunt Louisa books published by FREDERICK WARNE & CO.

The Aunt Louisa books were issued either as a Toy Book which cost 1/- or in hardbacks such as Aunt Louisa’s London Gift Book or Aunt Louisa’s Sunday Picture Books. These books were mainly illustrated by Kronheim, but some by Dalziel or Leighton.

The name Aunt Louisa came from the name of Frederick Warne’s wife. Frederick was born on 13 October 1825 in Westminster and died 7 November 1901 at his home in London. He married Louisa Jane Fruing in 1852.

The Title Page to Aunt Louisa's Sea Side Toy Book
The Title Page to Aunt Louisa's Sea Side Toy Book

Frederick had an older brother called William Henry who, like Frederick, at a later date, became a partner in the retail bookselling business of George Routledge. George married Maria Elizabeth Warne, their elder sister. William became a partner in 1848 when the firm became Routledge and Warne and in 1851 when Frederick joined it changed to Routledge & Co. George Routledge was a very astute businessman and in the late 1840’s realised that there was a ready market for cheap books and launched his Railway Library. This business soon took off in a big way with W.H. Smith opening his first railway bookstall at Euston Station in 1848. His business went from strength to strength expanding into America.

In 1865 Frederick Warne opened his new offices in Covent Garden. The previous partnership was amicably dissolved. He started publishing colour picture books for children in the 1870s and 1880s and as well as Kronheim, he used illustrators such as Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway. He was a very successful both in the UK and America and died on 7th November 1901.