‘Anno’s Britain’ (1981) is the third in the series of books originally published in Japanese as ‘Tabi no Ehon’, literally ‘A Picture Book of Travels’. After the worldwide success of the first book (1977) which was not nation-specific, Anno concentrated on illustrating one country for each of the subsequent books.
Trafalgar Square (Torafarugā-hiroba) from ‘Anno’s Britain’ (Courtesy of Anno Art Museum, Tsuwano)
‘Anno’s Britain’ shows the now familiar lone traveller arriving in a boat near the White Cliffs of Dover, visiting Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and the Cotswolds among other locations in England and returning home from Scottish shores. Each scene is a mixture of experiences and locations. There are numerous references to children’s nursery rhymes, local customs, folklore, art, literature and architecture.
This is the complete set of the original pen and ink watercolours.
Just like the previous ‘Tabi no Ehon’ books, there are no words to describe the contents. Anno likened this to travelling in a foreign land where there is no explanation for the surroundings in which one finds oneself. Although one might not understand the language, one is still able to interpret one’s surroundings and find a place to eat or a place to stay. Seeing, hearing and feeling things for the first time in an unknown land, is, for the traveller, a joyous voyage of discovery.
While in London, Anno found a book called the ‘Book of British Villages’. Going from one village to the next, he was intrigued by how each village had its own particular story whether it be related to its medieval castle, or its thatching industry or its blacksmith’s forge. He was impressed by how the villagers were in no hurry to spoil their surroundings with ‘development’. As a result, Anno came to the conclusion that Britain’s villages were the most beautiful in the world.
Windsor Castle (Uinzā-jō) from ‘Anno’s Britain’ (Courtesy of Anno Art Museum, Tsuwano)
‘Anno’s Britain’ was produced in the same year as the wedding of The Prince of Wales and the then Lady Diana Spencer, hence the illustrations in the frontispiece and end leaves of the Japanese version of the book. Each of the following pages has references to British art, literature, history and folklore. Anno was especially influenced by the nursery rhymes of ‘Mother Goose’. Each time one looks through the book, one can find something new.