A shared love of books, art and children inspired Ann James and Ann Haddon to establish Books Illustrated in 1988. Together they bring a unique view to the picture book industry – librarian, bookseller, gallery director, writer and illustrator. For over thirty years they have celebrated and promoted Australian picture books and their creators through launches, workshops, displays and exhibitions, literary events and programs throughout Australia and internationally.
Both Anns received the Pixie O’Harris Award for services to Australian children’s literature in 2000. Ann J was awarded the Dromkeen Medal in 2002. The Anns each received the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2016 for their work in Australian Children’s Literature. Ann James was the Australian Illustrator nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, 2020.
Ann Haddon was a teacher librarian for 18 years, establishing the Yarra Valley Grammar School Junior Library before collaborating with Ann James to set up Books Illustrated. Actively involved in children’s literature, an executive member of the Children’s Book Council, President of the Victorian Branch and Vice President of the National CBCA Executive in 2007 & 2008.
Ann is involved with the Melbourne Book Market and projects with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
Ann James was an art teacher who began illustrating children’s books in 1980 and has since illustrated over 70 books. Ann helped establish the Society of Book Illustrators in 1988; was a director on the Board of The Australian Society of Authors for 20 years and a founding director on the Board of the Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation for 10 years. As an Ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, Ann works on creative projects in remote communities. She continues to illustrate in her studio upstairs at Books Illustrated.
1988 Beginning at Cobden Street
In Book Week 1988 Books Illustrated we opened as a gallery for children's book illustration in a colonial workers cottage in South Melbourne – also the setting for Finding Jack by Ann J.
Celebrating the boom in publishing for children in Australia at that time, the first exhibition in 1988 was The Not-So-Shortlist Exhibition featuring illustrations from picture books entered into the 1988 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Awards. This exhibition went on to become an annual highlight in our program for the next twenty years!
Our small gallery soon became a hub for children’s book illustrators and the decision was made to establish the Society of Book Illustrators. The inaugural meeting was held at Books Illustrated in 1988. With over nine exhibitions a year, and the enthusiastic support of children’s literature enthusiasts, the gallery soon outgrew the little cottage.
1991 Branching out at Beaconsfield Parade
In 1991, Books Illustrated moved to a handsome old house at 300 Beaconsfield Parade in Middle Park. An education program was developed and exhibitions, launches and events for the children’s literature community. It was home to the Victorian Nutcote Trust and helped raise awareness and funds to save the home of May Gibbs for the Nation! An important collaboration with the CBCA, Reading the Pictures, a seminar on Visual Literacy, had 26 illustrators participating from around Australia.
Collaborations were forged with other industry organisations to promote Australian publishing for children and generally developing a strong national network.
1993 Growing at Gasworks
The move in 1993 to Gasworks Arts Park in Albert Park to the historic two- storey Gatehouse building enabled us to establish a specialist children’s bookshop downstairs and a gallery for illustration and Ann James’s open studio, upstairs.
For 16 years Books Illustrated was involved in Gasworks Arts events and took advantage of integrating children’s literature and illustration into their community-based arts programs with our own education programs, seminars and workshops developing audiences for and beyond the children’s literature community. Exhibitions extended to regional galleries and oversea, promoting Australian picture books and creators in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China.
2009 Back to Beaconsfield Parade
In 2008 Books Illustrated moved back 300 Beaconsfield Parade to refocus and expand our touring exhibition program.
An annual highlight from 2009 was a partnership with the Australian Publishers Association to create the Hallo from Australia promotional illustration display for the Australian Stand at Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy. We travel there each year to promote new Australian picture books and their creators. In 2013, the Hello! From Australia exhibition toured 12 venues in Korea. Books Illustrated also curated and toured other illustration exhibitions in Asia, 3 to China including Swimming with Stories at the Children’s Museum in Shanghai, and the Hello! From Australia promotion at Taipei Book Fair, Taiwan.
2014 Biding time at Mills Street
When the handsome old building was sold in 2016, Books Illustrated moved temporarily to 74 Mills Street, Albert Park. In this snug bookshop with limited display space, we continued the touring exhibitions program and involvement in promotional events while planning a return to 121 Cobden Street. This time to a new purpose-built showroom and studio behind the cottage where Books Illustrated’s story began!
Other events included an annual stand at Clunes Booktown and weekly promotions at Federation Square book market for 14 years.
2016 Home at Cobden Street
In 2018 Books Illustrated returned to Cobden Street where our story started over 30 years before!! From our small, purpose-built showroom we continue to curate and develop exhibitions and displays for here and overseas, including Hello! From Australia at the Bologna Book Fair in Italy. Our goal is still to showcase the depth and excellence of Australian contemporary picture books and their creators
We welcome visitors to our showroom by appointment and visitors can view and purchase original book illustrations, limited edition prints and the books, many signed, that they feature in.
We are active members of The Melbourne Book Market operating at various venues in Melbourne.
2023 Books Illustrated closes
In 2023 we finally closed our Books Illustrated doors after 35 years. We are of course still open to involving ourselves in more exciting adventures.