[ Books for Children ]
Featuring beautiful painted illustrations in colours that manage to be deeply rich and muted at the same time, Humbert, Mr Firkin and The Lord Mayor of London is about a horse who pulls a scrap dealer’s cart.
Humbert is grateful to Mr Firkin who feeds him well, keeps him groomed and avoids the traffic and he is liked by children, who often give him apples, but the snooty brewery horses with their elegant harnesses look down on him and make him feel lowly and discontented.
The book is dedicated to “Scrap dealers, Brewers, Coal merchants, Lord Mayors & all who continue to use horses”
Humbert has grand aspirations and when he attends the Lord Mayor’s Show, he has his moment in the sun. He may have humble origins but when disaster strikes in the procession to the Show, he is the one who rises to the occasion and saves the day. He is rewarded with an invitation to the Grand Banquet and the promise of a happy retirement in the country when the time comes.
Originally published in 1965, the story evokes a bygone London with horse-drawn carts, stables and the tradition of Lord Mayors travelling the square mile with enormous pageantry.
Sir Christopher Collett (Lord Mayor of London) was instrumental in the reprint of this story, in 1989 to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the Lord Mayor’s Show. In his introduction, he announced the Anniversary Awards Trust, creating scholarships and trusts to support projects for young people, especially those who, like Humbert, have a special connection to the City of London.
“More than 50 years later it is still one of the best picture books ever produced for children”
Judith Kerr, author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea and When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit said in 2018, that Humbert inspired her to become an illustrator.
Humbert, Mr Firken and the Lord Mayor of London is still available in paperback