The Art of War

Ruth King works for Children’s Publisher of the Year Usborne Publishing, dealing with picture research and rights clearance. Ruth’s is quite an unusual role but one that is central to the great visual content featured in Usborne’s children’s books. To get an idea of what she does, we’ve asked her to describe her work:

My role is so varied that it’s hard to describe a typical day, but I can tell you about a book that I’ve worked on recently that was really interesting. The centenary of World War One in 2014 has been central to our publishing programme this year and we have been working with Imperial War Museums on a range of books for children.

In The Story of The First World War by Paul Dowsell, we wanted to incorporate lots of colour images, to break up the contemporary black and white photos. The cover features John Nash’s The Menin Road from 1919.

We’ve also used his painting Oppy Wood 1917, Evening inside the book. This painting is used to illustrate life in the trenches in the book. The caption next to it reads: ‘Oppy Wood 1917, Evening, by British war artist John Nash, shows the bleak landscape of No Man’s Land on a crisp winter evening. Frozen ground was preferable to heavy rain, which turned the trenches into a soggy morass.’

The Imperial War Museums website is full of fascinating information and a great resource for me when I’m looking for pictures to use in Usborne books. As well as more paintings by John Nash and other war artists, The Story of The First World War also includes lots of evocative photographs, like this one of the Battle of Passchendaele:

Copyright for all the works shown belongs to Imperial War Museums and one of their experts on the First World War, Simon Robbins, also acted as a consultant on this book. It is a privilege to be able to work with an archive like this and I think these images really bring the history of World War One to life, for children who are learning about it one hundred years on.”

Usborne publishes a wide range of children’s books about the First World War, many of them in association with Imperial War Museums. We also sell our books through their retail outlets and the buyer there was kind enough to say this about us:

“Usborne produce quality children’s books which continue to grow in sales throughout our shops. They have produced books about the world wars which are accessible, informative and engaging and which are popular with a wide number of our customers.” Kieran Whitworth – Imperial War Museums

See all Usborne’s books on the First World War for children at