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Marcia Brown Papers

Identifier: DG0123

Scope and Contents

The collection contains photographs of Brown, programs from the 1972 University of Southern Mississippi's Children's Book Festival, original materials for 20 books published between 1947 and 1972, and one unidentified drawing. The materials in the collection cover 25 years of Brown's career and are representative of her interest in tales from other cultures as well as traditional European-based tales. The artwork demonstrates some of Brown's favorite techniques including linoleum and woodcuts.

The material for the books is arranged alphabetically by title; for each title the organization of the material reflects the probable order in which it was created. The artist appended small, blue notes to some of the illustrations in the collection. In an effort to remain consistent throughout, the descriptions in this finding aid may at times diverge from those of the creator.

Anansi, the Spider Man (1954) is a collection of Jamaican folk tales. For this title the collection has both pen and ink and watercolor illustrations. For Backbone of the King (1966), the Hawaiian story of Paka'a and his son, the collection contains partial and complete typescripts, linoleum blocks and linoleum prints. The Bun (1972) is a traditional Russian folk tale in which the central character, the bun, outsmarts all the other characters, except for the clever fox. For this title the collection includes two corrected typescripts, preliminary drawings, and two watercolor illustrations.

Brown received the Caldecott for adapting and illustrating Cinderella (1954), Charles Perrault's classic tale of the poor, mistreated girl who wins the heart of the handsome prince. For this title, the collection contains a typescript, preliminary drawings and watercolor illustrations. For Dick Whittington and His Cat (1950), Brown's retelling of the legend about a boy who became mayor of London and whose cat made him rich, the collection includes linoleum prints and a proof, printed by the artist, for the title page. Felice (1958), set in Venice, is the story of a striped cat who is befriended by a canal boatman's son and gets a name and a home. For this title the collection has watercolor illustrations and a trial sketch for the jacket. For The Flying Carpet (1956), Brown's retelling of Richard Burton's translation of The Arabian Nights, the collection includes three marker and watercolor illustrations. For Giselle (1970), Brown's rendition of the ballet about a young peasant girl who falls in love, the collection has preliminary drawings, a typescript, and proofs. For Henry, Fisherman: A Story of the Virgin Islands (1949), the collection contains a manuscript, preliminary drawings, and gouache and graphite illustrations.

How, Hippo! (1969) is the story of Little Hippo's frightening experience with a crocodile the first time he is separated from his mother. The collection has a manuscript, a preliminary drawing, the woodblock for the endpapers, and color woodblock prints for this book. The Little Carousel (1946), Marcia Brown's first book, is the story of a boy named Anthony and the treat he gets when a carousel visits his street. For this title the collection includes a rough dummy and press sheets. The Neighbors (1967) is about the conflict that ensues when the fox takes over the hare's home. In the collection for this title are a manuscript, illustrations and proofs. Brown won the Caldecott for retelling and illustrating Once a Mouse (1961), the story of a mouse who becomes a cat, a dog, and a tiger only to be turned back into a mouse again because of excessive vanity. There are a woodblock, a dummy and wood block prints for this title, as well as a Newbery-Caldecott souvenir scarf. For Peter Piper's Alphabet (1959) the collection has illustrations and a dust jacket. Puss In Boots (1952) is the tale of a sly cat who wins for his master the lordship of a manor and the hand of a princess. For this title the collection contains an edited typescript, illustrations, color proofs and a woodblock print. For Skipper John's Cook (1951), the tale of how a boy named Si changed the crew's all-bean diet, there is a typescript, a dummy and an illustration.

The Steadfast Tin Soldier (1953) is Hans Christian Andersen's tale of a toy soldier who falls in love with a paper ballerina. For this title the collection includes Marcia Brown's preliminary drawings and illustrations, as well as a monotype print and a printer's proof. Stone Soup (1947) tells of three soldiers who feed a whole town on soup made of stones and water. This title includes a dummy of the 1960 French version entitled Une Drole de Soupe. It also includes preliminary drawings and one final watercolor illustration. For Tamarindo! (1960), the story of four boys who set out to find a lost donkey, there are a manuscript, two typescripts, a dummy, cut press sheets and a dust jacket. For The Wild Swans (1963), another Hans Christian Andersen classic, there are preliminary drawings, one watercolor illustration and proofs. The collection also contains one unidentified drawing.


  • Creation: 1946-1972

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; Available for research

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.

Biographical / Historical

Marcia Brown was born July 13, 1918 in Rochester, New York. She studied at Woodstock School of Painting and received the Bachelor of Arts degree from New York College for Teachers (now State University of New York at Albany) in 1940. She also attended the New School for Social Research, Columbia University, and Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, China. Brown was a teacher of English and drama at Cornwall High (New York) from 1940 to 1943 and assistant librarian for a rare book collection at the New York Public Library from 1943 to 1948. She has also taught puppetry at University College of the West Indies, Jamaica (1953), and a workshop at the Split Rock Arts Program at the University of Minnesota (1986). There have been numerous exhibits of her woodcuts around the country.

An author and illustrator of children's books, Marcia Brown was interested in writing and painting since she was very young. As she grew older she studied English and art at various schools in this country and abroad. Study coupled with travel--to Italy, Hawaii, the West Indies and Mexico--proved invaluable in providing Brown with the experience needed to write and illustrate her own works as well as adapt traditional and exotic fairy tales and folktales.

Brown's first book, The Little Carousel, was published in 1946. It is a realistic story which grew out of a scene she witnessed from her apartment window during her early days in New York City. Since then, she has written or retold and illustrated over 25 books for children. Brown felt that every book should be unique, even when the same technique is used. Believing that a medium applied like a formula often took the life out of the subject, Brown chose the artistic technique which seemed best suited to the job at hand. Nevertheless, the woodcut was her favorite medium, the one that she felt related to traditional graphic media and most successfully combined with type on a page. Although Brown was best known as an illustrator, she was also an author and adapter of many traditional tales and folktales for children.

Brown received many prestigious honors and awards. She was runner-up for the Caldecott Medal for Stone Soup (1948), Henry, Fisherman (1950), Dick Whittington and His Cat (1951), Skipper John's Cook (1952), Puss In Boots (1953), and The Steadfast Tin Soldier (1954). She received the Caldecott Medal for Cinderella in 1955, Once a Mouse in 1962, and Shadow in 1983. She won the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion in 1972 for overall distinction in her field.

Marcia Brown passed away April 28, 2015 at the age of 96.


Something About the Author, vol. 47, pp. 28-45.

Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, 3rd ed., 1989, p. 139.

Illustrators of Children's Books 1967-1976, 1978, p. 104.


2.80 Cubic Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material received from Marcia Brown in 1972, 1986, and 1993. The Little Carousel press sheets were donated by Helen Adams Masten.

Related Materials

The Helen Adams Masten Papers (DG0677); The Jane Ellen Carstens Collection (DG1324)

Marcia Brown Papers
In Progress
Sharon Miller
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
This finding aid is the product of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the de Grummond Childrens Literature Collection Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001