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Annotated Reference Guide to Collectible Books

Thompson, Kay

Kay Thompson

Kay Thompson, borne Catherine Louise Fink, was a broadcasting force of nature. Although she made most of her money through vocal arrangements and orchestration, Kay Thompson became world famous for her series of children’s books ‘Elouise’ which are still much-sought after to this day.

It would be hard to enumerate all of the reasons that make Kay Thompson so collectible. Is it the fact that she sung with – or at least arranged, wrote, and conducted the songs for some of the biggest stars of television, radio and Hollywood – names such as Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, and Frank Sinatra? Or perhaps it is because Thompson’s goddaughter is none other than the singer and actress Liza Minnelli – who some claim is the inspiration for the Elouise books?

The most enduring reason to collect any author is always, however, how much you like her work, and her personality – and with a character like Kay Thompson – she had lots of personality! Thompson lived for the most of her life in a permanent suite of rooms at the Plaza Hotel, New York, from which she ruled her creative work and array of social appointments with meticulous care. As she had once been the top vocal director, choral coach and arranger for MGM studios – this was no mean feat!

When collecting Kay Thompson books, the obvious first choice would be the Elouise children’s books, lovingly illustrated by Hilary Knight. There are a variety of editions to choose from – with a truly rare set being offered by Simon and Shuster publishers of all four boxed presentation copy first editions (1955) with the ‘Elouise’ collector’s doll. The Elouise Doll was a huge success when it was brought out – unusual for a book range at the time to also feature a ‘toy’! The Elouise Doll was unlike any other as it had a silk face (reflecting perhaps, the author’s love for fine things) and not a ceramic or plastic one. The doll was always marketed towards the collectors, and so, although two series of the doll were planned, only one size ever produced. This truly rare set would cost somewhere in the region of seven to eight thousand dollars at auction!

For a cheaper alternative; it would perhaps be much more fun as well for the collector to invest in an Elouise books singularly, as very fine first editions of all four of the Elouise books can be found, with very attractive illustrations and covers by Hilary Knight, and worth somewhere in the region of three to four hundred US dollars.

Thompson, Kay. Eloise. Simon & Schuster, New York (1955). A Book for Precocious Grownups, About a Little Girl Who Lives at the Plaza Hotel; Illustrated by Hilary Knight

Thompson, Kay. Eloise in Paris. Simon and Schuster, New York (1957). Enchanting drawings by Hilary Knight.

Thompson, Kay. Eloise. Max Reinhardt, London (1957). A Book for Precocious Grown Ups; Illust. by Hilary Knight.

Thompson, Kay. Eloise At Christmastime. Max Reinhardt, London (1958). Illustrated by Hilary Kniight

Thompson, Kay. Eloise at Christmastime. Simon & Schuster, New York (1958).

Thompson, Kay. Eloise At Christmastime. Random House, New York (1958). Drawings by Hilary Knight.

Thompson, Kay. Eloise in Paris. Max Reinhardt, London (1958). Drawings by Hilary Knight.

Thompson, Kay. Random House, New York (1959). Drawings by Hilary Knight.

Thompson, Kay. Eloise at Christmastime. Max Reinhardt, London (1959). Drawings by Hilary Knight.

Thompson, Kay. Eloise in Moscow. Simon & Schuster, New York (1959). Illustrated throughout in black, white, and yellow with drawings by Hilary Knight, one double-page gatefold in full colour

Thompson, Kay. Eloise in Moscow. Max Reinhardt, London (1960). Drawings by Hilary Knight.

Thompson, Kay. Eloise. Simon & Schuster, New York (1994).

Thompson, Kay. Eloise. Simon & Schuster, New York (1995). 250 copies; illustrator Hilary Knight

Thompson, Kay. Eloise. Simon & Schuster, New York (1999). 250 deluxe limited edition copies

Thompson, Kay. Eloise At Christmastime. Simon & Schuster, New York (1999). 250 copies; illustrator Hilary Knight

Thompson, Kay. Eloise in Paris. Simon & Schuster, New York (1999). Together with The Absolutely Essential Eloise; Eloise in Paris (new edition); Eloise in Moscow; Eloise at Christmastime; Eloise Takes a Bawth; Plus Bonus; 250 copies printed; Illustrated by Hilary Knight

Thompson, Kay. Kay Thompson's Eloise. Simon & Schuster, New York (1999). Marie Brenner; The Absolutely Essential Edition; Illus. by Hilary Knight; 250 copies printed.

Thompson, Kay. Eloise in Moscow. Simon and Schuster, New York (2000). 300 copies printed; Illus. by Hilary Knight