UVa Library Press Releases 1997 - 1998
ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS FOR "MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE" CLASSIC SERIES OF CHILDREN'S BOOKS ARE GIVEN TO U.VA. LIBRARY
Contact: Michael Plunkett, director of Special Collections at (804) 924-3998 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
June 2, 1998. Some 170 original illustrations created by noted horse-artist Wesley Dennis for the beloved children's book "Misty of Chincoteague" and for author Marguerite Henry's other classic books about the wild ponies of the Virginia coastal island have been given to the Special Collections Department of the University of Virginia Library.
The illustrations, chiefly black-and-white pencil drawings, were given to the library by the Misty of Chincoteague Foundation Inc. of Chincoteague, Va., through its secretary Elizabeth H. Sutton of Charlottesville.
A selection of Dennis's illustrations are on exhibit in the Stettinius Gallery of the Special Collections Department on the second floor of Alderman Library through August 15, and a few have been digitized and are available for viewing on the department's homepage at http://www.lib.virginia.edu/speccol/new/newman.html.
In presenting the illustrations, Sutton said, "We are so grateful to the Dennis family for giving us the chance to save this priceless work from any further deterioration. Now that it is in a place where it can be kept in the proper conditions, it will be available to the world to see and enjoy." The mission of the Misty of Chincoteague Foundation is to preserve the Misty story through educational and historic means.
The collaborative effort by Marguerite Henry, who died last year, and Dennis, who lived in Warrenton and died in 1966, resulted in a series of books that have brought joy to millions of young readers. The best known is Henry's "Misty of Chincoteague," published in 1947, which told the story of a pony and life on the tiny island off the Virginia coast and became one of the most popular children's books of all times. Other collaborative works in the series include "Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague"  and "Stormy, Misty's Foal" .
The cooperation between Henry and Dennis contributed significantly to the popularity of horse books, according to Michael Plunkett, the library's director of special collections. Dennis's illustrations are often considered a major contributing factor in making Henry's stories classic favorites.
Dennis, who studied in Boston and Paris, combined his interest in art with his love of animals, and gained an international reputation as an illustrator of dogs and horses. He specialized in illustration of children's books, creating more than 80 popular works, including 15 books in collaboration with Henry.
Other items in the donated collection include a color illustration (28" by 20") of Misty by Dennis promoting "Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry & Illustrated by Wesley Dennis" and an autograph letter dated February 4, 1946, from Henry to Dennis.
REPORTERS, EDITORS: You may download illustrations for publication from http://www.lib.virginia.edu/speccol/new/newman.html.
Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
Contact: Michael Plunkett (804) 924-3025.