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Eloise Wilkin was born Eloise Burns on March 30, 1904 in Rochester, New York. Wilkin married and had four children, Sidney, Jeremy, Deborah Wilkin Springett, and Ann Wilkin Murphy. Her career, covering more than fifty years, involved free-lance drawing, doll designing, illustration and writing.
Wilkin won several awards for her writings and illustrations including the Ewald Eisenhardt Memorial Merit Award for excellence in printmaking for her lithograph “Lilybet.” Two books, which she illustrated, The Boy With a Drum (1971) by David L. Harrison and I Hear: Sounds In a Child’s World (1971) by Lucille Ogle and Tina Thoburn, were each named children’s book of the year by the Child Study Association of America. She also received honorable mention in 1940 from the New York Times Book Review for her illustrations for A Good House for a Mouse written by Irmengarde Eberle, 1940, and in 1950 for The Tune is in the Tree written by Maud Hart Lovelace
In addition to her collaborations with numerous other authors, however, Wilkin published several of her own books, including Baby’s Mother Goose, My Goodnight Book, and The Eloise Wilkin Treasury: Favorite Nursery Rhymes, Poems, and Stories. A number of her books were joint efforts with her sister, Esther, who provided the text. Over the years she worked with various major publishing houses, and by 1944 she was under exclusive contract with Golden Press, a division of Western Publishing Company in New York City. Wilkin also collaborated with her daughter Deborah Springett on Eloise Wilkin’s Book of Poems, a collection combining Wilkin’s drawings with verse written by Deborah. Wilkin’s work was exhibited in 1982 at Hartnett Gallery, Rochester, New York.
Eloise Wilkin was also known for designing dolls and dollhouses. In the 1960s she successfully marketed a newborn infant doll called “Baby Dear.” Reportedly, former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev returned home with several of the dolls after a trip to a toy store in New York City.
While studying art at Mechanics Institute (now Rochester Institute of Technology), Wilkin met Joan Esley, best known as an illustrator of several books for adolescents. They formed a lifelong friendship that included collaboration on The Visit. Eloise Wilkin died of cardiac arrest following surgery for cancer, October 4, 1987 in Rochester, New York.
Source: Contemporary Authors Online.
The Eloise Wilkin collection contains materials relating entirely to the book illustrated by Wilkin, The Visit. Materials include chronologically arranged correspondence, a typed revised draft of the manuscript, photographs, a layout of the book, a press release, original artwork, and a bound copy of the book.
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[Identification of item], Eloise Wilkin Papers, Coll 213, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
Typed draft with revisions, pages 1-11
Layout for The Visit
Published book: Esley, Joan. The Visit. Chicago: Rand McNally
Book review, The Visit
Photographs for illustrations
Photographs for illustrations
The Visit (flowers and leaves, p. 32)
The Visit (bird on branch, p. 2)