Le Mair, H. Willebeek (1889–1966)

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Le Mair, H. Willebeek (1889–1966)

Dutch illustrator of children's books . Name variations: adopted the name "Saida" after her marriage. Born Henriette Willebeek Le Mair in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on April 23, 1889; died in 1966; married Baron van Tuyll van Serooskerken, in 1920.

Selected works as illustrator:

Premières Rondes Enfantines (1904); Our Old Nursery Rhymes (1911); Little Songs of Long Ago (1912); The Children's Corner (1914); Little People (1915); Dutch Nursery Rhymes (1917); A Child's Garden of Verses (1926); Twenty Jakarta Tales (1939); Christmas Carols for Young Children (1946). Also illustrated the "Little Nursery Rhyme Books" series: Grannie's Little Rhyme Book; Mother's Little Rhyme Book; Auntie's Little Rhyme Book; Nursie's Little Rhyme Book; Daddy's Little Rhyme Book; Baby's Little Rhyme Book; Piano Album of Children's Pieces; Baby's Diary; A Gallery of Children (1925).

The daughter of a wealthy corn merchant, illustrator H. Willebeek Le Mair was born in 1889 and raised in Rotterdam. As a child, she was greatly influenced by her artistic parents, who composed verses for her to illustrate. Her first book, Premières Rondes Enfantines (1904), was published when she was 15, during a stay in France. At that time, she also received some instruction from the leading French illustrator Maurice Boutet de Monvel, who in his own day had been inspired by the great English illustrator Kate Greenaway .

Around 1910, Le Mair opened an exclusive school in her home. In addition to teaching, she used her young students as models, further developing her distinctive style. In 1911, she began one of her first commissions, a series of nursery-rhyme illustrations for Augener, an English music publisher. The series, which included Our Old Nursery Rhymes (1911), Little Songs of Long Ago (1912), and Old Dutch Nursery Rhymes (1917), was well received by the critics. "Since the days of Kate Greenaway I know of no one who has caught so well the spirit of childhood as Miss Willebeek Le Mair," wrote the reviewer for Studio. Augener also published several other books illustrated by the artist, including a group of six small rhyme books, as well as Schumann's Piano Album of Children's Pieces, Baby's Diary, and 11 sets of children's postcards (each containing 10 postcards).

In 1925, Le Mair created illustrations for A Gallery of Children, written by A.A. Milne. She subsequently illustrated Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses, Twenty Jakarta Tales, and, her own particular favorite, Christmas Carols for Young Children. Le Mair, who had developed an interest in Eastern philosophy and art from her girlhood travels to Arabia, married Baron van Tuyll van Serooskerken in 1920, and with her husband converted to Sufism, an Eastern religion of universal brotherhood and love. Along with her work as an illustrator, she spent much of her time helping the poor and supporting various charitable causes.


Dalby, Richard. The Golden Age of Children's Book Illustration. NY: Gallery Books, 1991.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Le Mair, H. Willebeek (1889–1966)

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