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The Anne and Fernand Renier collection of children’s books

Three children on Christmas Eve, illustration, Rosa C. Petherick, about 1900. Museum no. RENIER.333. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Three children on Christmas Eve, illustration, Rosa C. Petherick, about 1900. Museum no. RENIER.333. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The Renier collection of children’s books ranges from works by Walter Crane, Kate Greenaway and Hans Christian Andersen, to diaries and school records, doll dressing books and ephemera from fairs and supermarkets.

Fernand Gabriel Renier was born in Flushing, Holland, in 1905. He moved to England in the 1920s to study languages at London University, where he met his wife, Anne Cliff (born 1911?), through their shared interest in collecting matchbox labels. Fernand worked for the BBC World Service for a number of years, as well as teaching languages and undertaking translation work, in which he was assisted by Anne. Both Anne and Fernand were keenly interested in social and political history, and they began collecting children’s books and other related material in the mid 1950s as source material for social historians.

Anne Renier explained that they had built the collection 'with the aim of presenting as representative a mass of material for the social historian as possible'. They donated the collection, eventually containing over 80,000 books plus toys, games and printed ephemera, to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1970. It was moved to the Museum of Childhood in 1984, where a dedicated librarian worked to catalogue the collection. It now forms part of the Word and Image Department collections at Blythe House. The Reniers died in 1988.


Information in the V&A Archive

MA/1/R617/1-5: Nominal file – Renier, Mr & Mrs (Renier Collection)

Selected printed works

Doll and toy stories: in the Renier Collection: part 1. London: The Museum, 1989. Blythe House pressmark: 74.CC.108(e)

Doll and toy stories: in the Renier Collection: part 2. London: The Museum, 1989. Blythe House pressmark: 74.CC.108 (f)

Penguin publications for children: in the Renier Collection. London: The Museum, 1987. Blythe House pressmark: R016.0705 PEN

Moveable books: in the Renier Collection. London: The Museum, 1988. Blythe House pressmark: 74.CC.108 (c)

Periodicals and annuals before 1900: in the Renier Collection. London: The Museum, 1991. Blythe House pressmark: 74.CC.108 (c)

Painting and colouring books in the Renier Collection. London: Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, 1993. Blythe House pressmark: 74.CC.108 (j)

Renier, Anne. ‘The Renier Collection of Children’s Books.’ In Book Collector 23, no.1, (spring 1974): 40-52

To locate material in the National Art Library, please search the Library Catalogue.

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