A Family Portrait Drawn in Aunt Mary’s Stories for Children

Aunt Mary’s Stories for Children (London: William Darton and Son, between 1830 and 1835) Cotsen 44687.

The illustrated inscription in this little volume of stories will make you laugh out loud.   Miss Cha (short for Charlotte) Osborn gave it as a gift to Helen McDonnell in 1842.  It looks as if someone who was not Cha drew in pencil a kite with its string fastened to the number 2 in 1842.  That same person may have drawn the balloon below (if that’s what it is).

That’s just a lagniappe before the main course, the group portrait of Cha and her three siblings.  Big sister Cha seems to be presenting a book (possibly this copy of Aunt Mary’s Stories) to someone.   Next comes little sister Laura in a matching dress, holding a doll in one hand.  Then comes Osborn number three, brother Harry in skirts and waving a whip.  Last and very definitely least is the tightly swaddled baby Frank lying on the ground with a  “V” growing out of his chest.  I haven’t figured out yet what Cha intended the “V” to represent.

I’m sure the four children were always as good as they were in Cha’s picture!