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Home > Blog > January 2012 > "Ever Wondrous to Behold": The 50th Anniversary of Virginia Lee Burton's Life Story

We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the classic Life Story by Virginia Lee Burton. First published in 1962, this wonderful book tells the tale of life on Earth from the beginning to the present with intense color and detail. In 1968, Burton gave the drawings for this book to the Children's Literature Research Collection at the Free Library. The collection contains hundreds of illustrations that Burton created over eight years. Every aspect was drawn and redrawn until each was just right and the final product contains striking illustrations that jump off the page. The story of Earth from the Big Bang right up to today is presented as a stage play, starring creatures ranging from giant dinosaurs to tiny plants. Burton herself is the narrator in the last act, telling the story of her own family as it grows over time. Life Story was her final book, and is an amazing piece of art. We were lucky to be given the funds to catalog it as part of a CLIR-funded “Hidden Collections” grant, and we are especially happy to be able to share it with you. An exhibit showcasing Burton's beautiful art is now on display on the ground floor of Parkway Central, outside of the auditorium. Come see it before the curtain closes!

-Lindsay Friedman

Tags: CLIR Grant, Children's Literature Research Collection, archives

Drawing from Virginia Lee Burton's sketchbook of a dinosaur skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City
Drawing from Virginia Lee Burton's sketchbook of a dinosaur skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City
Illustration of the Earth's formation
Illustration of the Earth's formation
A colorful illustration of the dinosaurs roaming the Earth
A colorful illustration of the dinosaurs roaming the Earth
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