Skip to product information
1 of 18

Honeyburn Books (UK)

1914 All Aboard (Angusine J. MacGregor & Others) Blackie & Son Ltd

1914 All Aboard (Angusine J. MacGregor & Others) Blackie & Son Ltd

Regular price £75.00 GBP
Regular price Sale price £75.00 GBP
Sale Sold out
Tax included. Shipping calculated at checkout.

1914 All Aboard (Angusine J. MacGregor & Others) Blackie & Son Ltd.


Very rare not listed elsewhere contains a strip style story illustrated and written by Angusine Jean MacGregor who went on to write and illustrate the Ladybird 401 Series very rare example of her earlier work plus various other illustrators.

Angusine Jeanne Macgregor came, as her name suggests, from Scottish parentage.  Her father, Angus Macgregor, was a farmer’s son from Laggan in the Central Highlands of Scotland; her mother, Jeanne Chisholm, was born in the same hamlet.  Forsaking farming for the drapery trade, Angus Macgregor moved south and became a commercial traveller.  After stints in Worcester and at Herne Hill in South London, he settled his family in 1881 in Birmingham, where Angusine, the sixth of six daughters, was born in the suburb of Harborne in 1879, as was the seventh child and only son, Peter Chisholm Macgregor, who died in infancy.  The household was by then sufficiently well-off to accommodate both a live-in lady’s maid and domestic servant. In due course Angusine went on to study at Birmingham School of Art and subsequently to become an illustrator and writer of children’s books.  From July 1917 to July 1919 she served as housekeeper with the Scottish Women’s Hospital in Ajaccio, Corsica, then returned to the family home in Birmingham, from where she continued to work as an illustrator. She never married and died at the Parkfield Nursing Home in Birmingham on 26th February 1961.


“Mrs Bunny’s Refugee” from “The Wonderful Bunnies and Silversuit” (1927). © The British Library Board.

Her earliest known published work is a full-page spread in “The Graphic” for 26th December 1903 titled “Pages from Miranda’s Diary” and from then until 1956 there were dozens of publications written by her or featuring her illustrations.   Closer examination shows a clear pattern of two main periods of output, 1903-1921 and 1940-1956.  Work from the latter period represents Angusine’s Ladybird output; the earlier works consist in the main of picture books for younger children with full-page, bright, bold illustrations accompanying simple texts, many in verse.  Early titles include “The Mysterious Disappearance of What and Why” (1905), “The Story of Snips” (1909), “The Bunny Book” (1909) — reviewed by “The Graphic” as “a sheer delight” — and “The Story of Flip and Fuzzy. A Picture-book for little folk”, with Jessie Pope, (1911).

What, Why, and Flip were young rabbits while Snips was a mouse and Fuzzy a toy golliwog, suggesting that from an early point in her career Angusine had developed a talent for creating engaging stories about anthropomorphised animals and toys, for which she would supply the illustrations and either the accompanying storyline or the full text.  Several of these stories proved extremely successful and were reprinted in later editions.


“The Losing of Baby-Brother” (1921). © The British Library Board.

Among Macgregor’s non-anthropomorphic works are two “Bunty Books”, stories about a little girl who longs for “Someone to Play With” (1921), in this case a baby sibling who becomes the focus of a sequel — “The Losing of Baby- Brother” (1921).  Although slightly whimsical, these books are quite different in content and artistic style, rather more visually and textually satisfying — and not a walking, talking bunny in sight.  There appear to have been just the two Bunty books, which suggests the possibility that they were written in remembrance of her own short-lived baby brother, Peter.  Online searches also throw up Macgregor as a credited artist in a number of early twentieth-century children’s anthologies or annuals, including “The Children’s Friend” (1907), “Cassell’s Annual for Girls and Boys” (1909), Aunt Ruth’s “Frolic and Fun” (1909), “The Tiny Folks’ Annual” (1918), and “The Big ABC Book” (1921), where her work appeared alongside such well-known names as John Hassall, Charles Robinson, Millicent Sowerby and Louis Wain.  It is clear that Angusine’s pictures drove the storyline in the early books, whether she supplied the words or not, and this active engagement with shaping the text would continue for Wills & Hepworth, as acknowledged on the title page of her Ladybird Books (“written and illustrated by A. J. Macgregor”).  Looking at some of these early picture-verse books, it is easy to see how such child-friendly, sing-song tales of mischievous ducklings, mice, and other nursery-suitable animals and toys would evolve into the endearing and enduring series of eighteen Ladybird Books.  The reasons for the apparent hiatus in Angusine’s work are unclear, but her career revived with the invitation from Wills & Hepworth to work on their latest publishing venture.

View full details