DUNLOP, Marion Wallace. ~ The Magic Fruit Garden. London: [Ernest Nister in Bavaria for] Ernest Nister in London and E.P. Dutton & Co. in New York. 1899
8vo (205 × 138 mm), pp. 95, , illustrated throughout by Dunlop. Original pictorial blue cloth. Spine ends slightly bruised with very small loss of cloth at head, similar slight wear to lower forecorner of upper cover. Early gift inscription to front free endpaper: ‘To Doris. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with fondest love from Auntie Eva & Uncle Harold’. A very good copy.
First edition of this children’s allegory of female education by one of the most prominent early British suffragists. Marion Wallace-Dunlop was involved in the suffrage movement from 1900 (the year after this book appeared) and was thrice imprisoned at Holloway: first, in 1908 for obstruction and second, in 1909 for stencilling an extract from the Bill of Rights onto the wall of St. Stephen’s Hall, Westminster. During her second incarceration she was the first suffragist to go on a hunger strike. In November 1911 she helped to organise a window-smashing campaign and was imprisoned once more and in 1928 she was a pallbearer at Emmeline Pankhurst’s funeral.
The Magic Fruit Garden is a ‘fairy tale about a girl struggling to write an essay on ‘Perseverance’. In her quest for wisdom, Doc finds a magic fruit garden where knowledge-fruit grows on bushes and trees. Here she picks ‘geography-plums and history-apples and grammar-pears and all the time her knowledge of everything kept growing bigger and bigger’. In a glass conservatory, Doc encounters piles of sweets ‘made from mixtures of the various fruits in the garden boiled in a syrup called Research. There was botany-sugar, zoology-candy, geology-toffee, and sugar-plums of every kind and colour’. When she gets home, her brother tells Doc it was only a dream and remarks that it’s ‘just like a girl to think that a dream is real. However, he then embarks on an adventure of his own which forces him to admit the magic garden is real (from the website of the University College London Exhibition, Disrupters and Innovators, 2018). Dunlop’s printed dedication reads simply: ‘To my Mother’.
‘Marion Wallace-Dunlop studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1903 (when she also exhibited a painting at the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts), and in 1905 and 1906. Her paintings were also exhibited in Paris. She illustrated in art nouveau style two books, Fairies, Elves, and Flower Babies and The Magic Fruit Garden, both published in 1899’ (Oxford DNB). The Magic Fruit Garden was issued by Anglo-German publisher Ernest Nister, best known for his colourful moveable and popup books. Very scarce in both commerce and libraries. In the US, Worldcat lists copies at: Purdue, Princeton, Dartmouth and Universities of Rochester and Connecticut only.