And Tom? Ah, now comes the most wonderful part of this wonderful story. Tom, when he woke, for of course he woke—found himself swimming about in the stream, being about four inches, or—that I may be accurate—3.87902 inches long. In fact, the fairies had turned him into a water-baby.
I’m looking forward to giving a talk at the Heath Robinson Museum’s ‘Visualising the Water-Babies’ exhibition on the 2nd of November 2017.
With a focus on Linley Sambourne’s illustrations, but also including those of W.H. Robinson and Margaret Tarrant, I will look into the encoded messages of the tale’s illustrations, the cultural, scientific and social background they draw on, to illuminate the importance of fantasy in Kingsley’s fairy-tale and its visualizations. Thus, I will also address the question whether or not The Water-Babies is, really, a story for children.