Several years ago, I was absolutely mesmerized by a show at the Dahesh Museum of Art. It was called Stories to Tell: Masterworks from the Kelly Collection of American Illustration. One of the reasons I was so enchanted was that some of the works were magazine illustrations, especially from the days when magazines published the work of many women writers. But even the advertisements from this period were something to sing about. And the covers of magazines like Redbook, Cosmopolitian, and Saturday Evening Post.
There is one illustrator whose work I am sure you will all recognize: Jessie Wilcox Smith. Aside from many familiar books, she produced nearly two hundred covers for Good Housekeeping magazine. During my days at the Hearst Corporation (the publisher of Good House, and Victoria as well) I saw many of her works. We always received the famous popover recipe of the Good House dining room with a Jessie Wilcox Smith illustration. One of my personal favorites is a mother buttoning a little girl's coat. But I also love "Mother's Morning" (1902) for Scribner's Magazine.
Photography replaced these marvelous illustrations; and the stories were fewer and fewer as magazines changed with changing times. But I am reminded of Stories to Tell because a friend just brought me back a catalog from Persephone Books, after visiting the shop in London and sending me these pictures.
This wonderful company has reproduced some of the charming fiction of the past and done it with the taste and sensitivity of the period. Some of the old illustrations accompany the tales like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, that was also a recent motion picture. I immediately ordered Good Food on the Aga, 1933, by Ambrose Heath for a friend who has a love-hate relationship with a newly installed Aga that was indeed a saga.
Persephone Books reprints neglected writings from the early to mid-twentieth century with patterned end papers that are appropriate to the time period. The company maintains a wonderful web site and you can purchase the books online, paying of course the postage from Great Britain. (Perhaps one can find their books here in the U.S.?)
Bravo and a tip of the hat to Persephone--seems like old times--"dinner dates and flowers."