Queen Camilla receives a miniature book from Glenn Bartley, head of the Royal Bindery, during a reception at Windsor Castle for authors, illustrators and binders who have been involved in the new Miniature Library collection displayed alongside Queen Mary's Dolls' House for visitors to enjoy throughout 2024 in celebration of its centenary year. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth - WPA Pool/Getty Images=
Camilla Leads Miniature Book Initiative to Celebrate 100th Anniversary of the Queen’s Dolls’ House
The miniature book collection includes handwritten tomes by Sir Tom Stoppard, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Sir Ben Okri and other well-known authors / BY Andrew Wright / February 1st, 2024
Queen Camilla is taking her big love of books to tiny places.
Her Majesty has teamed up with some of Britain’s finest authors to create a collection of miniature books to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Queen’s Dolls’ House.
The famed doll house, which is available for public viewing in Windsor Castle, was presented in 1923 to Queen Mary, a devoted fan of small decorative art. Designed by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, it remains the biggest doll house in the world and boasts a library complete with a gun room, study, smoking room and of course a collection of miniature books reflecting literary tastes from the 1920s.
Built to a perfect 1:12 scale replica of a sprawling Edwardian home, it’s equipped with electricity, working lifts, running water and even staff quarters on the lower and upper mezzanine floors.
The structure also contains works from over 1,500 of the finest artists and craftspeople of the time. Famous authors like J.M. Barrie, John Buchan, G.K. Chesterton, Joseph Conrad, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Galsworthy, Robert Graves, Thomas Hardy, Aldous Huxley, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, A.A. Milne and Vita Sackville-West all donated handwritten works to the house’s miniature library.
The new collection, which went on display alongside the famous doll house this week, features 20 new works, including short stories, poetry collections, illustrated tales, plays and even recipes – many of which are inspired by the doll house or written to commemorate its centenary.
The Queen hosted a reception at Windsor Castle on Tuesday for the authors, illustrators and binders who participated in the project, including writers Sir Tom Stoppard, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Sir Ben Okri and Julia Donaldson. Camilla even put her own calligraphy skills to the test by writing an introduction to one of the tiny tomes.
During the reception, the Queen joked about her poor vision as she was presented with the book she worked on at the reception. “I hope your eyesight hasn’t deteriorated that much … Certainly, mine did,” she said.
“As a child seeing the Dolls’ House for the first time, I was always fascinated by the books,” she said, adding that it was thrilling to see the actual handwriting of prominent authors of the time. “For me, it is the library that is the most breath-taking space in the house,” she said.
Former children’s laureate Julia Donaldson created a tiny version of her iconic children’s book The Gruffalo, illustrated by the original artist Axel Scheffler. “It was quite tricky working out the new pagination and making my handwriting as small as could be, but Axel had a greater labour of love creating all those extra pictures,” she told The Standard.
Meanwhile, poet and novelist Sir Ben Okri, who won the Booker Prize in 1991 for his novel The Famished Road, added there was “something magical” about working in this small space. “Writing small concentrates the mind and draws one into the mysterious kingdom of art.”
“But then the Dolls’ House too is a mysterious kingdom that once encountered starts a secret yearning to dwell there,” Okri mused, completing a thought that sounded as though it belonged in one of his poems.
The new collection will be on display throughout 2024.