The Osborne Collection
Toronto Public Library’s Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books is one of the world’s foremost historical collections of English-language children’s literature. Located in the Lillian H. Smith branch, the Osborne Collection holds over 80,000 items, including manuscripts, books, book-related art, archives, ephemera and book-related games.
Our collection ranges from a 14th-century manuscript of Aesop’s Fables through medieval books of manners, moral tales of the Puritan era, 18th-century chapbooks and hornbooks to Victorian classics of fantasy, adventure, and school stories up to 1910. We also collect modern notable books published after 1910.
- The Canadiana collection of books, including early manuscripts of children’s picture books
Unique items, including:
- Florence Nightingale’s childhood books
- Queen Mary’s collection of royal children’s books
- The Pettingell Collection of Periodicals and Penny Dreadfuls
- Original manuscripts by H.G. Wells, Walter Crane, Catharine Parr Traill (who wrote the first home-grown Canadian children’s novel), Susan Cooper, Brian Doyle, Kenneth Oppel, Art Slade and other notable authors.
See more of the collection
Please come visit the Osborne Collection, but if you would like to see more of our collection online, explore these other virtual exhibits:
- When Cinderella Went to the Ball: Five Hundred Years of Fairy Tales
- Picture Perfect - Canadian picture book art from the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books
- This Magical Book
- The Circus Comes to Town. This exhibit on the circus includes a selection of children’s books from the Osborne collection.
Or you can browse through a couple of Osborne books online: