Some Childrens' [sic] Songs by Marion Alsop & Dorothy McCrae. Designed by Edith Alsop
Melbourne, George Robertson and Company (Printed in Scotland), .
Large quarto (347 x 298 mm), [viii], 20 (mainly music for the five songs),  (last two blank) pages with line illustrations (large pictorial titles to all five songs, and tail-pieces to four of them) plus 5 full-page colour plates.
Original full dark blue morocco lettered ornately in gilt on the front cover; leather a little scuffed and rubbed, and lightly worn at the extremities; endpapers offset; one plate very slightly chipped along the bottom edge; trifling signs of handling; overall an excellent copy.
The cover title is 'Some Childrens' [sic] Songs by Marion Alsop. Words by Dorothy McCrae. Designed by Edith Alsop'. Dorothy Frances McCrae (1879-1937) was a daughter of George Gordon McCrae, 'poet and man of letters', and sister of the poet Hugh McCrae. 'The sisters Edith and Marion Alsop collaborated with Dorothy McCrae to produce pictures, music and verse for five original children's songs: 'Paddling Days', 'The Jackass' (the laughing jackass, or kookaburra), 'Bubbles', 'The Song of the Water Babies' and 'The Rebel'. These were published by George Robertson in 1910 as a folio-size children's song-book titled 'Some Children's [sic] Songs'; Marion wrote the music, Dorothy the words, and Edith 'designed' the book. Her designs consisted of five full-page colour illustrations introducing each song on the left-hand page and five black-and-white vignettes above the title of each song opposite. Edith and Marion's artistic alliance mirrored that of their contemporaries, the better known Rentoul sisters, Ida (Outhwaite) and Annie, who collaborated on illustrated fairy stories for over 20 years. The first of the Rentouls' three children's song-books, 'Australian Songs for Young and Old', had appeared in 1907 'in connection with' the opening of the Women's Work Exhibition. Edith - who had unsuccessfully submitted a design for the poster competition and won a prize for her design for a frieze - could not have failed to be aware of Ida's highly admired exhibits, Annie's ode performed at the opening ceremony and the praise for the 'twin gifts' that had produced their song-book. The Alsops' book was published in 1910, the same year that the Rentouls' second song-book ('Bush Songs of Australia') appeared. There seems to have been no sense of competition between the two sets of sisters; indeed, both books were produced by the same publisher and the families were friendly, even to the point of Rodney Alsop (Edith and Marion's brother) acting as groomsman at Ida's marriage to Grenbry Outhwaite in 1909. Yet comparisons are (and were) inevitable. The Rentoul/Outhwaite book was very popular and was reprinted several times (until 1924). Although less popular, the Alsop book seems the more visually attractive, being double the size and with text and image well integrated, as shown in Edith's title vignette 'The Rebel'. 'The Rebel', imprisoned in her cot and desperately fighting against the narcotic effects of the decorative poppies that surround her, howls her refusal to sleep from the yawning black O of her mouth' (Anita Callaway, perhaps reading a little too much into the frieze, but spot-on with the rest of her lengthy contribution to 'Design & Art Australia Online' - an invaluable resource. By the way, 'The Rebel' is still one hell of a lullaby, even by today's standards ...). Muir 159 (most uncharacteristically including two mistakes! - 'Francis' for 'Frances' in the first line, and automatically correcting the incorrect 'Childrens'' in the title). Marcie Muir also states 'Published in variant bindings (paper, clo., & leather) see advt. in the 'Argus' 12/11/1909'. We cannot locate this reference in Trove, but we did find a George Robertson and Company advertisement in the issue for Saturday 3 September 1910, stating that this book was 'Ready today ... Paper Style, 3/6; Cloth, 6/-; Leather, 10/6'. This edition in full morocco is undoubtedly rare, but it was apparently still available for sale in 1919 - this copy carries a prize plate from Fintona (then a Presbyterian Girls' Grammar School in Camberwell) dated December 1919 on the flyleaf (with the small school crest embossed in gilt on the front cover).