The Adler Collector of Soviet Children’s Books, 1930–1933

Get a load of this: For years, a battered brown leather suitcase sat in a loft. Inside was a treasure trove: 257 children's books from the Soviet Union, 170 of them in Russian, 84 in Ukrainian, and 3 in Yiddish, almost all published between 1930 and 1933. This extraordinary collection was made possible by two young architects, Hans Edward Adler and Hedwig Feldmann, who worked in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s for a brief but vital period.

From their family home in Cologne, the books made their way to England (where the couple moved, fleeing Nazi Germany) and were rediscovered in 1986, when their daughter Susan cleared out her parents' flat. The Adler collection, donated by Susan McQuail (née Adler) to the Braidense Library in Milan in 2020, is evidence of a unique period in 20th-century history: each volume reveals an aspect of the USSR in the period after the October Revolution and tells us about the central role of children's literature in Soviet culture. Among the "avant-garde stories" designed to educate new citizens, the collection includes rare editions by masters such as Vladimir Lebedev, Vera Ermolaeva, and Aleksandr Dejneka, as well as a remarkable group of Ukrainian books, until now considered as undiscovered areas for even the most dedicated researchers. Fantastic.
  • Authors: Federica Rossi, James M. Bradburne, John E. Bowlt
  • Size: 8.5 × 10 inches
  • Pages: 352
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Language: Italian + English in equal measure
  • Publisher: Corraini, 2021