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Image Maggie's ABC book, 1894

TLF ID M000268

This is a hand-drawn and hand-coloured children's alphabet book featuring pen, ink and watercolour drawings. The book is cloth-bound and inscribed on the cover: 'ABC / Maggie Harrison / 1894'. Inside the front cover is the inscription 'Miss Maggie Harrison, Argyle Terrace, Twerton-on-Avon, Bath, England'. On the facing page is a globe showing England at the top and Australia at the bottom with the inscription, 'Maggie from Uncle Will 1894'. The British and Australian coats of arms have been drawn at opposite corners. The title page has the inscription 'Maggie's ABC'.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This hand-drawn children's alphabet book features delightful pen, ink and watercolour drawings and was made in 1894 by 13-year-old William Harrison. William went on to be an Art Director and later Advertising Manager for the Australian firm of Wunderlich, well-known makers of terracotta roof tiles and stamped metal ceilings.
  • The ABC book was made for Harrison's young niece, Maggie Harrison, who lived near Bath in England. It includes a clever combination of British and Australian images such as drawings of a weather vane, robin, unicorn, ivy and Christmas pudding as well as a stockwhip, kangaroo, opossum (the correct name of a South American animal but sometimes mistakenly applied to the Australian possum), emu and laughing jackass (kookaburra). While the subjects chosen for the ABC book illustrate the differences between Britain and Australia, many also represent their similarities and the close links between the two countries.
  • Many libraries and museums in this country hold numerous examples of published 19th century Australian and European children's literature, but there are few examples of more informal productions such as this one.
  • The ABC book provides an insight into the value placed on industry and learning in the 19th century, not only for the recipient of the book but also by its young illustrator and producer.
  • William Harrison was born in England in about 1881 and arrived in Australia as a young man. He began his working career with the Melbourne furniture supplier, W H Rocke and Co Ltd of 247-249 Collins Street. In 1889 the Wunderlich brothers had sold their patent rights for pressed-metal ceilings to this firm only to purchase them back again in 1893. The company merged with Wunderlich in 1908 and became Wunderlich Ltd. By 1904 Harrison had been transferred to Sydney with Wunderlich. He spent the rest of his working life with the firm and rose to become an Art Director and later Advertising Manager before his premature death of a heart attack in 1923 at age 42.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Powerhouse Museum
  • Organization: Powerhouse Museum
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: NSW, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Person: William Harrison
  • Description: Author
  • Publisher
  • Name: Powerhouse Museum
  • Organization: Powerhouse Museum
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: NSW, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Curriculum Corporation and Trustees of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences 2009 (except where otherwise indicated). You may view, display, print out, copy and modify this material for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.