We all have or have had Ladybird Books at home, either to read
to our children, or if we are younger, to have been read to. Now
we know that the daughter of the mover and shaker of the Ladybird
Book Publishing Company, has been living on our doorstep all the
Caroline Alexander gave a most informative talk to the Historical
Society on her father Douglas Keen, Editorial Director of Ladybird
Books during its most innovative and prolific years during the
1950's, 60's and 70's.
Douglas Keen joined the company in 1936, working his way up the
ladder until the war came in 1939. After war service, he came
back to the company which was now publishing children's story
books in the colour and size format we all know. But Douglas keen
saw a potential Market for educational books in a children friendly
format and accurate enough to make them acceptable to teachers.He
employed experts in their fields to write the texts and good accurate
artists for the illustrations.
The first educational book was on British Birds, followed by
British Flora, then History Books, Biographies, Astronomy and
understanding Maths and an " How it Works" series.
The books all sold at 2/6p, a price held for thirty years…an
astonishing record. Sales of course soared, eventually reaching
120 million copies worldwide.
Douglas Keen died in 2008 aged 95 years.