The letter commissioning this book is missing from the Nelson Archive, but Edwin Jack of Thomas Nelson and Sons wrote to Blampied on 6th December 1921:
I am now very much in need for the drawings for the Zoo Book. Will you be good enough to send them on as soon as possible.
Jack wrote to John Blampied, who was acting as Edmund's agent, on 1st February 1922:
We received drawings for the Zoo Book from Mr Edmund Blampied. We shall send him shortly proofs for colouring up. It seem to us however the subjects he has chosen for colour do not give much scope for a variety of bright colours. We shall, however, see that when they are finished. We note also that in place of sending us 28, as in Blam’s Book of Fun, black and white drawings he sends us 20. We can readily fill up the space with letter press description no doubt, but note this meantime. We think the book should be very attractive.
At this time Blampied was very busy working for other publishers and establishing himself as an artist, designing etchings and drypoints and working on oil paintings for an exhibition at the Leicester Galleries. Jack wrote to John Blampied a few days later:
With regard to the 8 drawings short for the Zoo Book will you kindly ask Mr Edmund Blampied to give us end papers for the book. Two pages in place of these 8 subjects. I don’t want an end paper of a formal type, something of the scrap picture book type which Mr Blampied did for his alphabet book. We should like to have these as soon as possible.
There is no more correspondence about this book other than a short letter from Jack who sent Blampied the proofs for colouring, a process in which Blampied added the flat colours to printed proofs of the line drawings. There were no decorated end papers in this book, it only contains 16 line drawings (none of which are signed), and it included a line drawing on page 10 of two kangaroos that is not by Blampied. There is no credit given to Blampied on the cover or title page. Another illustration probably meant for this book, of people riding elephants at a zoo, was used in the second Nursery Book (1922).
Several drawings for this book were used in other books, such as the Nursery Book (2nd Year), before they were issued in this title. The copy of The Zoo Book in the Bodleian Library has an accession date of June 1924, the same year as the copy in the British Library. It seems that Nelson's were not enthusiastic about this book. After this title was published all other books published by Thomas Nelson and Sons simply reused old material, and there were no further commissons. The last letter in the Nelson archive was about Two on an Island for which they had rejected Blampied's designs for a cover. Perhaps then Blampied decided that he didn't want to accept any more commissions from Edwin Jack. In August 1922 Blampied started working for The Bystander, a weekly magazine of society, a new challenge to stimulate his imagination.
Bibliography code: NEL-24.1
Publisher: Thomas Nelson and Sons
Binding: printed boards backed with red cloth, stapled; adverts for Nelson's children's annuals on the rear boards
Size: 285 x 227 mm
Cover: by Blampied, not signed
Dust jacket: may have been issued in one, but not seen
Internal illustrations: full page flat colour drawing as frontispiece; decorated title page; five full page flat colour drawings printed on one side of glossy card, pages not numbered and bound in, all but one signed 'Blam'; seven full page line drawings, none signed; eight other smaller line drawings, none signed; the line drawings on page 10 is by a different hand.
Source of illustration: original
Price: unknown, perhaps 2 shillings 6 pence
Printing history: not stated
Printed by: Printed in Great Britain at the Press of the Publishers
Dust jacket (click to enlarge)
The colour drawings in The Zoo Book: