From Dickens to Doctor Who: The Lealan Collection

              Front cover of ‘The Lone Ranger Annual’ of 1958 (Manchester, 1957 or 1958). © 2018 Homerton College.

The annual pictured above is just one of thousands of items in the library’s exciting new special collection. The Lealan Collection was acquired by Homerton in 2013 from Mr Malcolm Lealan. Comprising a broad range of annuals, novels, anthologies and non-fiction from nearly 200 years of children’s literature, the collection is a valuable and significant addition to the resources of the library, and an important new part of the college as a whole.

I have just started the mammoth task of cataloguing these items, so whilst we have an Excel document list, most of them are not yet visible on our iDiscover catalogue.

Highlights from the collection include:

  • Four or five first editions of titles in the Biggles series of adventure stories, by Captain W.E. Johns.
  • An 1845 edition of The Chimes, an 1844 novella by Charles Dickens.
  • A rare first edition of Silver and Gold by Enid Blyton (1925).
  • A first edition of Five Have a Mystery to Solve, by Enid Blyton, rare in dust wrapper (1962).
  • A complete run of Playbox Annual, a children’s periodical from the first half of the 20th century.
  • A rare first edition of The Two Form-Captains by Elsie Oxenham (1921).
  • A fine copy of the first edition of Philip Pullman’s Spring-Heeled Jack, with original glazed boards (1989).
  • A complete run of The British Girl’s Annual of 1910-1934.



Our first edition of Five Have a Mystery to Solve (London, 1962). © 2018 Homerton College.

With around 7,500 items, including roughly 1,500 monographs and 6,000 annuals – enough to fill a standard shipping container – the Lealan Collection is substantial.

It also covers a broad time period, with the oldest item being:

The children’s friend, volume 13, by W. Carus Wilson (1836). An early children’s periodical published in London.

And the newest item is:

Babar and Father Christmas by Jean de Brunhoff (2002). A modern reprint of the 1940 English edition of this classic French children’s story.

If you would like more information about this collection, please come in and speak to a member of the library staff, contact me directly on or speak to me in person, on the first floor of the library.

James Brigden

About homlib

The Library of Homerton College, University of Cambridge.
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