Iona and Peter Opie

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Iona Archibald Opie (born 13 October 1923) and Peter Mason Opie (25 November 1918 – 5 February 1982) were a married team of folklorists, who applied modern techniques to children's literature, summarized in their studies, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (1951) and The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959). They are also noted anthologists, and assembled large collections of children's literature, toys, and games.

Overview[edit]

Iona Margaret Balfour Archibald was born in Colchester, Essex, England. She is a world-renowned researcher and writer on European folklore and children's street culture.[citation needed] She is considered an authority on children's rhymes, street & playground games and the Mother Goose tradition.

Peter Opie was born in Cairo, in the war-time British Protectorate or Sultanate of Egypt, and educated at Eton College. He was a specialist in children's literature, and the customs of schoolchildren.[citation needed] He was joint winner of the £1,000 Chosen Books competition, with his autobiographical discursion The Case of Being a Young Man (published in paperback, 1946).[1]

The couple met during World War II and married in 1943. They worked together closely, from their home near Farnham, Surrey, conducting primary fieldwork, as well as library research, and interviewing thousands of children. In pursuing the folklore of contemporary childhood they directly recorded rhymes and games as they were currently being played. They collaborated on several celebrated books and, combined, produced over 30 works. They worked in their home in Alton, Hampshire.

Peter Opie died in 1982 at home, Westerfield House, West Liss, Hampshire.

Speaking in 2010, Iona speaks of working with her husband as being "like two of us in a very small boat and each had an oar and we were trying to row across the Atlantic. Also "We would never discuss ideas verbally except very late at night."[2]

The 1959 book The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren was meant to counter the argument that mass media and the entertainment industry had ruined childhood traditions.[citation needed]

Opie Collection[edit]

The Opies' collection of children's books and ephemera covers the 16th to 20th century and is the richest library of children's literature. It was begun in 1944, amounting in the end to 20,000 pieces. During 1988, it was donated to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, after a two-year public appeal raised the £500,000 cost; currently, the books are being transferred to microfiche.[citation needed][when?].

Selected works[edit]

  • Peter Opie, author, 1946, The Case of Being a Young Man, a discursion (Chosen Books, competition prize winner)
  • Iona and Peter Opie, collectors and editors, 1947. I Saw Esau: Traditional Rhymes of Youth (Williams & Norgate Ltd)
  • Iona and Peter Opie, editors, 1951. The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press)
  • Iona and Peter Opie, 1959, The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (Oxford University Press)
  • Iona and Peter Opie, 1963, The Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes (Penguin/Puffin)
  • Iona and Peter Opie, 1969, Children's Games in Street and Playground (Oxford University Press)
  • Iona and Peter Opie, editors, 1974. The Classic Fairy Tales (Oxford University Press). Presents the texts of twenty-four familiar fairy tales as they were first published in English; summarizes the history of each tale, especially from the textual point of view.
  • Iona and Peter Opie, 1985. The Singing Game (Oxford University Press).
  • Iona and Peter Opie, 1988. Tail Feathers of Mother Goose (Little Brown & Company).
  • Iona and Peter Opie, 1997. Children's Games with Things (Oxford University Press).

Latest editions

  • Iona and Peter Opie, Maurice Sendak illustrations, 1992. I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild's Pocket Book (Walker Books, London) (Republication of 1947 book)
  • Iona Opie, 1993. The People in the Playground (Oxford University Press, USA)
  • Iona Opie, 1996. My Very First Mother Goose (Cambridge, Mass:Candlewick)
  • Iona Opie, 1999. Here Comes Mother Goose (Cambridge, Mass:Candlewick)
  • Iona and Peter Opie, 1999. The Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes (Penguin/Puffin). Republication of 1963 book.
  • Iona and Peter Opie, 2000. I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild's Pocket Book (Cambridge, Mass:Candlewick) (Republication of 1947 book)
  • Iona and Peter Opie, 2000. The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (New York Review Book Classics) (Republication of 1959 book with new introductions by Marina Warner and Iona Opie)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Peter Opie, The Case of Being a Young Man, Chosen Books, 1946.
  2. ^ "News and Features | Platform | Open University". Open.ac.uk. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]