Gladys Lucy Adshead papers , 1937-1965

Overview of the Collection

Adshead, Gladys L.
Gladys Lucy Adshead papers
1937-1965 (inclusive)
1 linear feet, (2 containers)  :  2 manuscript boxes
Collection Number
Ax 446
Gladys Lucy Adshead (1896-1985) was a noted educator, school administrator, and the author of many children's books. The collection consists of correspondence related to production and publishing of her books, and manuscripts.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Gladys Lucy Adshead, author of numerous twentieth-century children's books as well as a successful teacher and school administrator, seemed destined for a literary vocation from an early age. The eldest child of four, Adshead was born to James Frederick and Bertha Wilson Groome Adshead in West Didsbury, Manchester, England in the rural county of Cheshire, on April 25th, 1896. Her English father proved to be a tremendous influence on her future career path. James inculcated in her a love of reading, exemplified by Adshead's adult recollections of the enjoyment her family gained from Beatrix Potter's stories, as well as her personal appreciation in being of the first generation to experience these works. His parenting brought her to an appreciation of the outdoors in nature walks, as his literary introductions to his favorite verse and authors such as Dickens instilled an esteem in her for books. James's influence proved prophetic in his openly avowed desire that Adshead would herself write children's books one day. Adshead began her authorial career in childhood writing in old exercise books she was later "glad to see disappear."

The second crucial element of Adshead's adult life also appeared early in her development; in 1906 with the birth of her second brother, she concluded at age ten that she wanted to be a teacher for small children. After receiving her degree in England at the Froebel Educational Institute, Roehampton, London in 1916, Adshead taught in British private schools before emigrating to the United States in 1921, receiving her naturalization in 1939. Her teaching career in North America proved eclectic. First settling in Baltimore, Maryland, she organized the first open-air free nursery school, supplementing her contact with children outside of the classroom by reading stories aloud to children in Baltimore public libraries and for the Children's Bookshop, other libraries, and independent organizations from 1921 to 1927. Adshead changed teaching positions in this period, moving to the progressive Park School of Baltimore where she taught first and second grade from 1922 to 1926. In 1927 she further expanded her credentials in teaching an experimental group of five-year-olds at the Beaver school of Boston. This position lasted until 1934, and was concurrent with Adshead's training of apprentice teachers that lasted until 1959. In her later years Adshead took an increasingly administrative role in education, such as her position as head of the lower school at the Buckingham School of Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1943 she was appointed Head of the Lower School of the North Shore Country Day School of Winnetka, Illinois. This position lasted until 1949, when she became Headmistress of the Charles River School of Dover, Massachusetts. The range of Adshead's professional affiliations over her career included charter membership in the Royal Society of Teachers, as well as membership in the Historical Society of Hancock, New Hampshire, the Michaelis Guild, and the position of the Independent School Association of Massachusetts Chairman of Advisory Board Finance for Mason New Hampshire for five years.

During the time of her later career Adshead bought a home in 1943, a 150-year old house on 15 acres of land with extensive wildlife; her friend and collaborator in children's literary publishing, the illustrator Elizabeth Orton Jones, was moved to purchase the twenty-acre farm next door after visiting Adshead's in 1944. Adshead listed her interests in an autobiographical publishing sketch as natural science, photography, travel, classical music, theater, symphonic concerts, walking, snowshoeing, and gardening. She traveled in Great Britain, France, and Switzerland.

Adshead identified her writing as getting "inside a child's skin," writing characters identified with the children in her own life and engaging with an ongoing theme of the importance of taking care of other people. Her retirement citations for work in the fields of children's literature and education proved her favorite traditional honoraria, to which Adshead appended "a poem to me written by three nine-year-olds, which is the nicest tribute of all." She passed away June 22, 1985 in Alameda County, California. Her published works include:

Brownies--Hush! 1938

Something Surprising 1939

Casco, the Little Seal 1943

What Miranda Knew 1944

Seventeen to Sing (with composer George H. Shapiro) 1946

An Inheritance of Poetry (collected and arranged with Annis Duff) 1948

Brownies, It's Christmas 1955

Brownies--Hurry! 1959

Smallest Brownie's Fearful Adventure 1961

Brownies, They're Moving 1971

Where Is Smallest Brownie 1971

Smallest Brownie and the Flying Squirrel 1972

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Gladys Lucy Adshead Papers consist of a collection of her correspondence together with materials related to the publication of her numerous children's books. There are manuscript copies of Bells Beyond the Sand: An Inheritance of Poetry, Brownies, Hurry!, Brownies, It's Christmas (3), Smallest Brownie's Fearful Adventure (3), Seventeen to Sing, and WhatMiranda Knew. In addition, there is a sheet of the final dummy for Casco, the Little Seal as well as several page proofs for Something Surprising. There is also a copy of the 1951 Chicago Schools Journal: Supplement on Authors and Illustrators of Children's Literature.

Adshead's collected correspondence relates to the history of publication for her children's books, including rejection letters for manuscripts and editorial suggestions. The letters also document the development of her publishing relationship with editor Patricia Cummings of the Oxford University Press who was to later draw Adshead to the newly formed publishing house Henry Z. Walck, Inc.

The four hundred forty-two manuscript pages for Bells Beyond the Sand: An Inheritance of Poetry vary in condition from fair to poor and in size. They include numerous revision comments as well as corrective sections glued over the original pages, and many are marred by adhesive hole protectors. The contents include working index materials for the book and a fifteen-page holograph of the index with glued organizing tabs.

The thirty-five holograph manuscript pages for Brownies, Hurry! are in good condition and include revision comments; many are marred by adhesive hole protectors.

The three manuscript copies for Brownies, It's Christmas are in good condition. The first holograph manuscript consists of thirty-eight pages. The second holograph manuscript, in dummy format for Oxford University Press, consists of eighty-two pages. The third holograph manuscript, with extensive revisions, consists of forty-five pages.

The dummy sheet for Casco, The Little Seal comprises eight pages from the final copy: 50, 51, 54, 55, 58, 59, 62, 63. The pages include three illustrations by Else Bostleman.

The two manuscript copies for Smallest Brownie's Fearful Adventure are in fair to good condition, although a few pages are marred by adhesive hole protectors. The typewritten manuscript consists of fourteen pages with extensive holograph revision comments. The first holograph manuscript in dummy format comprises seventy-nine pages and contains revision comments.

The dummy manuscript copy for Seventeen to Sing combines holograph and typewritten pages in fair to good condition. The thirty-two pages include sheet music with holograph revision comments and two holograph notes.

The fourteen page proofs for Something Surprising include holographic revision comments and illustrations by Helen Rinald.

The holograph manuscript pages for What Miranda Knew number thirty-one in good condition.

The Chicago Schools Journal: Supplement of May-June 1951 gives biographical sketches of authors and illustrators of children's literature in the Chicago area including Adshead's, and also includes Adshead's personal marginal holograph comments concerning those authors with which she was acquainted.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Children's literature--Authorship
  • Teachers--United States

Personal Names

  • Cummings, Pat

Form or Genre Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts for publication