Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Who is the Author of “Our Mother Goose, A Picture Book for Kindle”?

The title of this post poses the question as to who is the Author of “Our Mother Goose, A Picture Book for Kindle”. I am clearly the editor as I compiled and organized our edition and added editorial content. Jerlyn Thomas is clearly the illustrator as every image was done by her. It never crossed my mind that a body of literature developed from the verbal traditions of folklore needed to be attributed to any particular person. However, Amazon will not allow publication of a Kindle Book unless an author is specified.

I thought about using Mother Goose as the author but didn't want to make any mistakes that would aggravate the Kindle book reviewer and slow down publication of the the book. A little research of the Amazon Book Store shows that the most commonly listed author is Blanche Fisher Wright.

The difficulty with that historically and Intellectually is she didn't write the verses and she may not have existed. Seems that when you do a search for biographical information on the illustrator of a book which has sold 4 million copies, you cant find a birthday, place of birth or any other information to prove that she existed. This is for a person who lived and worked in the twentieth century, not a Roman historian who we seem to know more about.

One theory is that she may be Milo Winter who was a very famous illustrator of Children's books as he grew older but in his youth he did some beautiful drawings of bare breasted women. Perhaps his publisher thought it advisable to distance himself from Milo Winter and published the pictures under the name Blanche Fisher Wright. Seems early editions and many reproductions of the book include pictures signed by MW which is Milo Winter while identifying the illustrator as Wright. Of course the opposite theory is out there and that is that Wright used a masculine pen name for awhile because not many publishers were hiring female artists in 1916.

I tend to think that they are two different people particularly when you carefully compare the way they draw, hats, shoes, hair and glasses. They just seem to have two different styles. Of course, to confuse the issue, when you turn over the images drawn by Wright to examine her signature, the most prominent letters are the M (upside down W) and the three lines from B, F and g which form a W to yield a very recognizable MW which is the way Milo Winter signed his illustrations.

So in the end, our book lists Blanche Fisher Wright as the author even though she may not have existed and certainly did not write the Mother Goose Rhymes.

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