Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Water Babies - a retelling by Zena Holloway

Not many Americans seem to be familiar with Charles Kingsley's serial "The Water Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby" (written in 1862 and published in its entirety as a book in 1863*) but where I'm from it was part of the classic childhood cannon. You can read it and see the original illustrations through Google Books HERE.

Underwater photographer Zena Holloway, has retold the story, along with illustrator Heidi Taylor in a very magical way. The book follows the story of a young boy, a chimney sweep, named Tom, who has a series of underwater adventures. As per the subjects in the original story, Zena's photographs are mainly of children - underwater.
The project took her two years and is now available as a book. I've included a picture of Zena at work below, to give you some sense of her process (and patience!).

Even if you're not familiar with the story, you can see the fairy tale quality of the images captured so beautifully in the small selection I'm posting here.You can see many more at her website and at the book website (click on any image to enter).

Her additional underwater film and photography work including her 'Underwater Angels' (shown on her website) is well worth your time to browse.

NOTE: To give you a sense of the era The Water Babies was written in, Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" was published in 1865, also in England.


  1. delightful! i have some of the illustrations i am working into some pieces- what synchronicity.

  2. Oh my goodness! I loved The Water Babies and I still have my lovely edition illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith, but this looks just lovely!

  3. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I think I will leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  4. Love Water Babies and passed on the book to my sons