Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning, illustrated by Kate Greenaway
Pied Piper of Hamlin is a legend and, like all legends, may be based on true events. In a form of ballad Robert Browning made it one of the most popular stories for children in the second half of the 19th century. Spectacular illustrations by Kate Greenaway and professional execution of Edmund Evans, one of the most advanced printers of his time, played important role as well.
As already noticed the book went through several reprints. The cover on the top of the page belongs to 1888 edition when both authors were still alive, the rest comes from 1910 edition when Browning an Greenaway already passed away.
Such endpapers became popular with advanced printing technique at the end of 19th century. Made of small details related to the story offered negligible expense for the publisher making the picture book more colorful and thus attractive at the same time. This way the profit was maximized.
Frontispiece above is another characteristic from the beginning of the picture book as a specific media. While endpapers still serve their purposes in modern picture books frontispieces are almost forgotten.
Frederick Warne and Co. was a successful publishing house offering their books in Great Britain and USA at the same time. They already understood the power of the author's name on the cover. Always present dilemma between propagating the artists' names, risking higher demands for payments and ignoring creators' names trying to give them the sense of interchangeability was almost solved.
This picture book is a perfect example of her vision of children's wardrobe which became a standard despite the fact she cloth-makers didn't offer such pieces before she draw them.
You probably also noticed we are dealing with pretty luxurious edition with many colored pictures what forced Miss Greenaway to create a few additional images which were positioned in the book out of context. The one above is a representation of the main conflict in the story - between the Piper and people of Hamelin.
The Piper saw he had no chance. The people of Hamelin deceived him. They probably never intended to pay him anyway.
But he had a plan. He started playing his pipe again.
The rats were gone. Yet this song was not for the little rodents. It aimed at children of Hamelin.
They liked it and they wanted to hear more.
They left everything they were doing and started following the Piper.
Everybody went after the magic melody.
Everybody followed the Piper.
He was leaving town and all the children went after him.
The Piper's song was irresistible.
All kids followed the melody.
Parents couldn't stop them.
Children couldn't resist.
Miss Greenaway decided to present the Piper's influence on consecutive pages gradually building to a procession of kids following the Piper.
Piper made quite a crowd!
This page block actually consists from four full page illustrations.
People of Hamelin were paralysed.
It's believed only three kids left in town: one couldn't see, other couldn't hear and the third couldn't walk. This led to belief children from Hamelin were recruited for one of the wars, maybe a crusade.
The eerie feel of the story with an open ending offers numerous more or less imaginative and realistic explanations about the real events resulting in a the legend about the Pied Piper. There are many possibilities with at least three based on real tragedies in the wider area of today's Hamelin. More interesting facts here: https://artsandartists.hatenablog.com/entry/pied-piper-of-hamelin