The Queen has joined some of the country’s best-loved authors in helping to create a collection of miniature books to celebrate the centenary of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House.
Camilla has handwritten an introduction to one of the tiny works, while Sir Tom Stoppard, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Sir Ben Okri and Julia Donaldson also put their calligraphy skills to the test making their tomes.
The dolls’ house has a library reflecting tastes from the 1920s, when it was made, but the 20 new manuscripts update the collection with short stories, poetry collections and illustrated tales to plays, articles and recipes, many inspired by the Dolls’ House or written specially for the occasion.
The Queen will welcome some of the authors, illustrators and binders from the project to Windsor Castle on Tuesday to thank them and view the miniature books.
She said: “For me, it is the library that is the most breath-taking space in the house.
“These new books highlight the incredible richness of 21st century literary talent – and demonstrate how fortunate we are to have access to so many outstanding writers, whose work brings joy, comfort, laughter, companionship and hope to us all, opening our eyes to others’ experiences and reminding us that we are not alone.”
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House – the largest and most famous in the world – was completed in 1924 for King George V’s consort as a gift from the nation after the First World War.
It is a perfect 1:12 scale replica of an Edwardian home, complete with electricity, working lifts, running water, luxurious royal suites and functional below-stairs servants’ quarters.
Former children’s laureate Julia Donaldson created a tiny version of her popular children’s book The Gruffalo illustrated by the original artist Axel Scheffler.
She said: “It was quite tricky working out the new pagination and making my handwriting as small as could be, but Axel had a greater labour of love creating all those extra pictures.”
The poet and novelist Sir Ben Okri, whose book The Famished Road won the Booker Prize in 1991, said: “There is something magical about working with the very small. My contribution to this enchanting project was making a little book of my poems. Writing small concentrates the mind and draws one into the mysterious kingdom of art.
“But then the Dolls’ House too is a mysterious kingdom that once encountered starts a secret yearning to dwell there.”
Alan Bennett created The Mantelpiece for the project while Camilla’s son Tom Parker Bowles, a food writer, was also asked to contribute and produced A Recipe Fit for a Queen.
Playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, whose miniature manuscript is called Kolya’s Glove, said: “As a child I was always fascinated by Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, though I don’t think I ever set eyes on it. I must have read about it.
“At a young age, the miniaturisation seemed almost miraculous to me. So I was frankly thrilled to be invited to contribute to the new Dolls’ House library so many years later.”