The Adventures of Mabel

The Adventures of Mabel is a children's fantasy novel by Harry Thurston Peck (aka Rafford Pyke) first published in 1896-1897. The story is about Mabel, a five-year-old girl, who helps the King of all the lizards and is rewarded with the ability to converse with animals. She later also meets giants and brownies.


The first edition was published under the pseudonym of "Rafford Pyke" with illustrations by Melanie Elisabeth Norton. This version was published on two continents in 1897 (with an 1896 copyright). The copyright (in the US volume only) is to Dodd Mead, and the publishers are "University Press, John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, MA." in the US and "James Bowden, 10 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London" in the UK. Both are authored under the pseudonym "Rafford Pyke", and both contain the Melanie Elisabeth Norton illustrations (editions with the Harry Rountree illustrations are not first editions).

Volume IV, No. 1 of The Bookman A Literary Journal (September, 1896), of which Peck was an editor, contains an article, beginning on page 300, by "Harry Thurston Peck" entitled "The New Child and Its Picture Books." In this article, Peck (aka "Rafford Pyke") laments that illustrations in children's books are becoming so realistic that little room exists to engage the child's imagination to complete the image. He cites a number of good and bad examples and spends most of the rest of the article presenting and discussing the illustrations of Melanie Elisabeth Norton for The Adventures of Mabel by "Rafford Pyke". He even includes a photograph of Miss Norton. Thereafter, Miss Norton's illustrations appear frequently in issues of The Bookman edited by Peck.

The Bookman A Literary Journal contains a significant number of articles by "Rafford Pyke" (aka Peck), in addition to the many contributions Peck provided under his own name. Mr. Peck used Melanie Elisabeth (Norton) Leonard's illustrations in Hilda and the Wishes, copyrighted and published in 1907. Mabel also appears in Hilda and the Wishes (1907). The Adventures of Mabel and Hilda and the Wishes were the only children's books written by Harry Thurston Peck.

The same original version of The Adventures of Mabel, containing the Norton illustrations, was published as late as 1912, but under the author's real name: Harry Thurston Peck.

Two versions of The Adventures of Mabel were released by Dodd Mead in 1916, two years after his death, each containing new illustrations by Harry Rountree: the first was small and contained only black and white, but still very detailed illustrations, while the second was a larger book and contained very detailed color illustrations in addition to the black and whites included in the first.

A 1963 version, illustrated by Meg Wohlberg, contained an altogether new set of detailed illustrations.

The most recent printing of The Adventures of Mabel, from Greenhouse Publishing, contains the Rountree illustrations.

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