Bedtime Stories

What do you remember about your bedtime stories as a child? What did you read with a torch under the covers? Did you tell tales of your toys coming to life?

The next exhibition at the Museum of Childhood will look at these moments when night-time stories blur the line between waking and dreaming.

Inspired by Proust’s recollections of bedtime, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems Young Night Thought and The Land of Counterpane we are going to have a big quilt at the centre of the exhibition – this is where you come in.

Sheldon sleeping




I would love you to decorate a square of this big patchwork quilt with your memories and responses. I’ll give you some fabric, and you’ll have a 25cm square to do as you like! You could dye it, sew on it, draw or paint on it, use fabric glue or collage. It could be text or images or patterns. I have some iron-on transfer paper too, if you want to print your image onto the fabric (first come, first served on that).

shledon counterpane

This is the plan:

Tell me if you want to take part. Email me at Include your address so I can send you a square.

Through August – You decorate it

Before 1st September – get it back to me at the Museum of Childhood

September – I’ll sew them all together

October – quilt is hung in exhibition

Thanking you so much in advance, I’m sure this will be the most beautiful quilt!

sheldon time to rise

These illustrations are from Myrtle Sheldon’s 1916 version of Stevenson’s Garden of Verses.
I found the following writers inspiring, but you follow your own path.

Counterpane pic Young Night Thought pic

From Remembrance of Things Past: Swann’s Way
Marcel Proust

At Combray, as every afternoon ended, long before the time when I should have to go up to bed, and to lie there, unsleeping, far from my mother and grandmother, my bedroom became the fixed point on which my melancholy and anxious thoughts were centred. Someone had had the happy idea of giving me, to distract me on evenings when I seemed abnormally wretched, a magic lantern… in the manner of the master-builders and glass-painters of gothic days it substituted for the opaqueness of my walls an impalpable iridescence, supernatural phenomena of many colours, in which legends were depicted, as on a shifting and transitory window. But my sorrows were only increased, because this change of lighting destroyed, as nothing else could have done, the customary impression I had formed of my room, thanks to which the room itself, but for the torture of having to go to bed in it, had become quite endurable.

And, indeed, I found plenty of charm in these bright projections, which seemed… to shed around me the reflections of such ancient history. But I cannot express the discomfort I felt at such an intrusion of mystery and beauty into a room which I had succeeded in filling with my own personality until I thought no more of the room than of myself. The anaesthetic effect of custom being destroyed, I would begin to think and to feel very melancholy things.


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