Emma Thompson to Pen Book About the V&A Founder’s Dog

“Jim’s Spectacular Christmas” will be released this fall.
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License Global

May 31, 2022

Book cover.Puffin

Actor, Dame Emma Thompson, has teamed up with illustrator, Axel Scheffler, to publish “Jim’s Spectacular Christmas,” about the real-life dog that belonged to Sir Henry Cole, founding director, the

Victoria and Albert Museum

(V&A), to be released by Puffin in the U.K. 

Cole was known to have sent the first-ever Christmas card in 1843. He founded the V&A in 1852 when it began as a Museum of Manufactures and was officially opened by Queen Victoria at its current Kensington site in 1857.  

Jim was Cole’s Yorkshire terrier, and Cole’s diary entries indicate the fondness they had for one another, with Jim accompanying Cole everywhere around the museum.  

After receiving a Jim-shaped Christmas decoration and becoming enraptured by a drawing that Cole had made of his pet, Thompson was inspired to write about the dog, that goes on a Christmas adventure filled with high emotion, redemption, unexpected presents and a life-changing brush with royalty.  

Scheffler’s illustrations bring the story to life

with his own brand of warmth and humor. 

Thompson and Scheffler have corresponded for 30 years and built their relationship based on mutual fandom for one another, culminating in the pair finally meeting at a Waterstones (U.K. bookstore) Christmas event in 2019, the moment serendipitously captured 

on video


“Upon learning about Sir Henry and Jim for the first time, I couldn’t help but run amok with ideas about what it must have been like for this unlikely pet to be living in such an amazing museum,” says Thompson. “I’ve been a fan of Axel’s work for many years because of the humanity and humor in all his illustrations, so to be collaborating with him on this project is an utter joy.” 

"Emma originally contacted me by letter to request a commission some 30 years ago ... and many followed over the years,” says Scheffler. “That's how our correspondence began, and we only met in person at a signing in a bookshop a few years ago. When Puffin came to me with this project, I was very excited to get involved and to do a book with Emma. Illustrating her wonderful story has been a great pleasure and I hope that many readers – young and old – will share the enjoyment in time for Christmas." 

 “Sir Henry Cole’s legacy is relatively unknown to the public, yet it is such an important part of the V&A’s rich history,” says Tristram Hunt, director, the V&A Museum. “Working with Puffin has been the perfect collaboration for this wonderful project, and we are completely thrilled that Emma and Axel have taken it on. We can’t wait to share this beautiful Christmas story with the public.” 

“Jim’s Spectacular Christmas” will be published by Puffin in association with the V&A on October 27. To pre-order the book, visit 


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