Design : The Twelve Dancing Princesses : Fairy Tale : Drawings by Shelia Robinson

The Twelve Dancing Princesses : A Grimms’ Fairy Tale

We recently fell upon the work of illustrator and printmaker Shelia Robinson, and got quite excited when we saw that an archive fairytale book of the ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’ has been recently published by The Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden and the Centre for Children’s Book Studies, in collaboration with leading London design agency Webb & Webb. Take a look at the book here, and tell me you’re not slightly enchanted…


Shelia Robinson (1925-1988)

Born in Nottinghamshire, Sheila Robinson studied at the local Art School and then at the Royal College of Art where she came under the influence of Edward Bawden. An accomplished printmaker she developed to a high quality the cardboard-cut.


On her marriage to Bernard Cheese she moved to Great Bardfield, where they worked on their own commissions and with Bawden. She brought up two children, undertook book illustration and regular work for the Post Office and BBC, before becoming a full-time lecturer in printmaking at the Royal College, after which she seriously curtailed her own work.


The book

This edition of the Brothers Grimm’s The Twelve Dancing Princesses, beautifully designed and illustrated by Sheila Robinson in the late 1940s, but unpublished for 60 years has finally been published.


The original illustrations were kept at the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden for a number of years since being donated by Robinson’s daughter, the artist Chloe Cheese.

After some 200 years since the original Fairy Tales were first printed, the original book is in the form of a single completed, hand-made, hand-bound edition, created to the exact format of the Picture Puffin series.


Worn-out shoes

The princesses in the boats rowing across the lake in particular is an image that fired my imagination and inspired me to emulate my mother to become an illustrator myself. Looking at this illustration now I admire the lightness of touch and the use of light and shade. The picture still takes me to the edge of the lake and into the story.”

Copies can be ordered direct from Anglia Ruskin University. You might also like to visit the Fry Art Gallery website to see more of Sheila Robinson’s work. All proceeds from sales will be used further research publications. Price: £12.50 (including £2.50 p+p). Buy It here