Love and authenticity

‘The Skin Horse tells his story’: Illustration by William Nicholson

The Velveteen Rabbit
Or How Toys Become Real
by Margery Williams,
illustrated by William Nicholson.
Carousel 1976 (1922).

A classic tale first published a century ago, The Velveteen Rabbit can come across as insufferably sentimental, and it was the rumour of this sentimentality that has stopped me from reading it for so long.

But unfounded prejudice is never a good attitude to cultivate, whether in a critic or in general, so in its centenary year I deigned to pick up a decades-old copy from the shelved books of our now grown-up children, in order to judge for myself and see whether the common opinion of it was justified.

I now find that it was justified, but – and this is a big ‘but’ – I’ve also experienced the magic that, sentiment or not, undoubtedly lingers around this story and renders it a true classic, aided immeasurably by the delightful original illustrations by William Nicholson which complement the text so well.

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