Mother West Wind and her Merry Little Breezes
June 11, 2011 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Discover the charming children's literature of Thornton W. Burgess, author and naturalist, whose books embodied the Naturalist / Conservationist movement of the first half of the 20th century. His works are available through Project Gutenberg, The Literature Network (excellent biography on main page, navigate to books on the left sidebar (and within books also on the left sidebar)), and even several free audio book downloads through LibriVox.

If you're on Cape Cod, you can visit the Thornton W. Burgess Society and Museum in Sandwich, MA.

Burgess' books were illustrated by Harrison Cady, and many of the Project Gutenberg editions include his marvelous drawings.
posted by hippybear (6 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I took summer nature classes at the society many summers growing up in the next town over. It's a great place. They also have an amazing jam kitchen that does great classes on jamming and canning for adults.
Check out their kitchen that overlooks smiley pond in this youtube cooking clip (Cranberry Apple Relish). It's one of my favorite kitchens. I love the bench of gas burners that sits low through the middle of the room.
You can also see Peter Rabbit there and buy those honey straws.
posted by princelyfox at 7:09 AM on June 11, 2011

I loved Burgess' work when I was a kid. He had a deep love for natural history, and in addition to his series books about Peter Rabbit and Reddy Fox and Grandfather Frog et al, he wrote some larger volumes about animals, plants and the seashore, all illustrated with lovely color plates. I seem to remember that for the beach book, one of his animal characters, Danny Meadow Mouse, I think -- hitched a ride to the beach (accidentally) aboard an airplane. But how Danny got back to the meadow was never explained! And for the animal book, Old Mother Nature gave lectures to Peter about the animals who lived nearby. What charming books these were.

And now I think I will head over to Project Gutenberg -- lipperty lipperty lip! -- to get some of those books for my Kindle.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:28 AM on June 11, 2011

Thornton W. Burgess, original scanned books, color (Internet Archive)
posted by stbalbach at 8:52 AM on June 11, 2011

The Des Moines Register used to print one a week in the 50s and 60s and my grandmother would clip them out for years. When I visited, she'd pull out the box that held them and we carefully read them. She'd grown up on them too. Reading them now evokes the smell of old newsprint, hot Iowa summers and sleepy contentment.
posted by fellene at 12:42 PM on June 11, 2011

My God this brings back lovely memories. My grandmother had a number of beautifully illustrated Thornton Burgess children's books in her attic, and I remember happily reading The Adventures of Reddy Fox and others while visiting her. I haven't seen them for years, and I didn't realize Burgess' work is public domain now.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:24 PM on June 11, 2011

Some of my earliest memories are of reading Burgess's books. My reward for finishing one by myself was being given the next one in the series. Needless to say, I devoured them as fast as I could. This brings back many fond memories. Much thanks indeed.
posted by scalefree at 2:27 PM on June 11, 2011

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