Books On Books Collection – John Norris Wood

An Alphabet in Praise of Frogs and Toads (2002)

 An Alphabet in Praise of Frogs and Toads (2002)
John Norris Wood
Quarter red morocco over illustrated paper boards, lettered in gilt to spine, housed in black cloth and brown paper slipcase. Slipcase: H245 x W217 x D 20 mm. Book: H235 x W215 mm. 40 pages. Edition of 360, of which this is No. XXI of XXXVI, hand colored by Sylvia Stokeld under the artist’s supervision. Acquired from Sophie Schneideman Rare Books & Prints, 30 March 2022.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

A passionate lover of animals, [John Norris Wood] opened his home to them (literally: he converted a bedroom to ‘jungle’ conditions, to support tree frogs and snakes, and housed something approaching a private zoo in his extended garden) and maintained an unexpected aviary on the the top floor of the 1960s Brutalist Royal College of Art building. He also undertook natural history expeditions around the world. Writing and broadcasting for television on a number of natural history subjects, he acted as a consultant to the iconic 1979 BBC television series presented by David Attenborough, Life on Earth. Also a committed conservationist, he supported environmental campaigners including Friends of the Earth, the World Land Trust, Fauna and Flora International, the Programme for Belize, the Egyptian Tortoise Appeal and the Environmental Investigation Agency. [Royal College of Art]

Among the subgenres of alphabet books, the animal abecedary reigns. From the animal kingdom, though, frogs and toads are not the highest ranking of the sub-subgenres. Among artists’ books from fine presses, however, this counts among the finest in the Books On Books Collection. Norris Wood drew from life, but it is hard to credit that all 26 of these creatures inhabited his bedroom!

Further Reading and Viewing

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.

Pick, Xavier. 25 July 2021. “In Conversation with the late John Norris Wood (2012)“. Video.

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