Minnesotans are proud to claim children’s literature luminaries Wanda Gág, Maud Hart Lovelace, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Carol Ryrie Brink, Emma Brock, and Kate DiCamillo as their own. Author and illustrator Bertha Corbett Melcher usually escapes notice, although she lived and worked in Minneapolis when she launched her career. Today, her characters are best known to quilters and textile historians, even though she did not design the patterns familiar to so many.
In 1900 Bertha Corbett self-published The Sun-bonnet Babies, starring two little girls whose names were never given and whose faces were never seen. Soon, her babies could be found in many forms: printed, embroidered, appliquéd, pyro engraved (burned into wood), and painted on China. Her later books were frequently reprinted, often losing her gentle colors to more garish shades. Her concept of the bonneted, faceless tots was imitated by others almost immediately, attesting to its wide appeal.
Presenting the illustrations from the First Edition of Little Susie Sunbonnet and How Her Year Was Spent. A story for Little Tots by Uncle Milton. Published by Cupples & Leon Co., NY, 1907. With eleven full-page colour plates by Bertha Corbett Melcher.
Art Gallery: Bertha Corbett Melcher – Little Susie Sunbonnet