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Quentin Blake

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Title: Quentin Blake  
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Subject: Kate Greenaway Medal, Roald Dahl, Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, David Walliams, Matilda (novel)
Collection: 1932 Births, 20Th-Century English Writers, 21St-Century English Writers, Academics of the Royal College of Art, Alumni of Chelsea College of Art & Design, Alumni of Downing College, Cambridge, Alumni of the Royal College of Art, Alumni of the University of the Arts, British Children's Book Illustrators, British Children's Laureate, Chevaliers of the Ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres, Commanders of the Order of the British Empire, English Cartoonists, English Children's Writers, English Illustrators, Fellows of Chartered Society of Designers, Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration Winners, Kate Greenaway Medal Winners, Knights Bachelor, Living People, People Educated at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, People from Sidcup, Punch (Magazine) Cartoonists, Stamp Designers, Willy Wonka, Writers Who Illustrated Their Own Writing
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Quentin Blake

Sir Quentin Blake
An example of Blake's work, illustrating the cover of Born
Quentin Saxby Blake
(1932-12-16) 16 December 1932
Sidcup, Kent, England, UK
Nationality British
Education Chelsea School of Art
Known for Illustration
Awards Kate Greenaway Medal
Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration

Sir Quentin Saxby Blake, CBE, FCSD, FRSL, RDI (born 16 December 1932) is an English cartoonist, illustrator and children's writer. He may be known best for illustrating books written by Roald Dahl.[1] For his lasting contribution as a children's illustrator he won the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2002, the highest recognition available to creators of children's books.[1][2] From 1999 to 2001 he was the inaugural British Children's Laureate.[3]


  • Education 1
  • Career 2
  • Other activities 3
  • Selected works 4
    • As illustrator 4.1
  • Honours and awards 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Blake was born in 1932 in Sidcup, Kent, and was evacuated to the West Country during the war. He attended Holy Trinity Lamorbey C of E Primary School and, later, Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, where his English teacher, J H Walsh, influenced his ambition to become involved in literature. His first published drawing was for the satirical magazine Punch, at the age of 16. He read English Literature at Downing College, Cambridge from 1953 to 1956, received his postgraduate teaching diploma from the University of London, and later studied part-time at the Chelsea School of Art and later Camberwell College of Art. He has since denied that studying at the University of Cambridge contributed to his artistic or creative talent.[4] He gained a teaching diploma at the Institute of Education.


During the 1960s, Blake taught English at the Lycée Français de Londres which cemented his long association with France and culminated in the award of the Legion of Honour (see below). He taught at the Royal College of Art for over twenty years, where he was head of the Illustration department from 1978 to 1986.

Blake illustrated "The Wonderful Button" by Evan Hunter, published by Abelard-Schuman in 1961.[5]

Blake gained a reputation as a reliable and humorous illustrator of more than 300 children's books, including some written by Joan Aiken, Elizabeth Bowen, Roald Dahl, Nils-Olof Franzén, William Steig, and Dr. Seuss —the first Seuss book that "Seuss" did not illustrate himself, Great Day for Up! (1974).[6]

By 2006, Blake had illustrated 323 books, of which he had written 35 and Dahl had written 18.[7][1] To date, Blake has illustrated two of David Walliams's books and has illustrated Folio Society Limited Editions such as Don Quixote, Candide and 50 Fables of LaFontaine.

Other activities

In the 1970s Blake was an occasional presenter of the BBC children's story-telling programme Jackanory, when he would illustrate the stories on a canvas as he was telling them.

In 1993 he designed the five British Christmas issue postage stamps featuring episodes from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Quentin Blake is patron of the Blake Society, Downing College's arts and humanities society. He is also a patron of "The Big Draw"[8] which aims to get people drawing throughout the United Kingdom, and of The Nightingale Project,[9] a charity that puts art into hospitals. Since 2006 he has produced work for several hospitals and mental health centres in the London area, a children's hospital (hopital Armand Trousseau) in Paris, and a maternity hospital in Angers, France.[10] These projects are detailed in Blake's 2012 book Quentin Blake: Beyond the Page, which describes how, in his seventies, his work has increasingly appeared outside the pages of books, in public places such as hospitals, theatre foyers, galleries and museums.[11]

In 2007 he designed a huge mural on fabric, suspended over and thus disguising a ramshackle building immediately opposite an entrance to St Pancras railway station. The rendering of an "imaginary welcoming committee" greets passengers arriving on the Eurostar high-speed railway.[12]

Blake is also the designer of 'Ben', the 'logo' of the shop chain Ben's Cookies.

Blake also designed several illustrations for the story time segments for the Scottish TV series Squeak!

Quentin Blake is a supporter of and ambassador for the indigenous rights NGO Survival International. In 2009, he said, "For me, Survival is important for two reasons; one is that I think it’s right that we should give help and support to people who are threatened by the rapacious industrial society we have created; and the other that, more generally, it gives an important signal about how we all ought to be looking after the world. Its message is the most fundamental of any charity I'm connected with."[13]

Blake is a Trustee of The House of Illustration, a centre in London for exhibitions, educational events and activities related to the art of illustration. He was also the subject of the first exhibition at this venue, entitled Inside Stories, which opened in July 2014.

Selected works

These 35 books were both written and illustrated by Blake.[7][14]

  • Patrick (Jonathan Cape, 1968)
  • Jack and Nancy (Cape, 1969)
  • Angelo (Cape, 1970)
  • Snuff (Cape, 1973)
  • Lester at the Seaside (William Collins, Sons, 1975)
  • Lester and the Unusual Pet (Collins, 1975)
  • The Adventures of Lester (BBC, 1977)
  • Mister Magnolia (Cape, 1980) —winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal[15]
  • Quentin Blake's Nursery Rhyme Book (Cape, 1983)
  • The Story of the Dancing Frog (Cape, 1984)
  • Mrs Armitage On Wheels (Cape, 1987)
  • Quentin Blake's ABC (Cape, 1989)
  • All Join In (Cape, 1990) —winner of the Kurt Maschler Award for integrated text and illustration[16]
  • Cockatoos (Cape, 1992)
  • Simpkin (Cape, 199)
  • The Quentin Blake Book of Nonsense Verse (Viking Press, 1994)
  • Clown (Cape, 1995) —commended runner-up for the Greenaway Medal[17][2]
  • La Vie de la Page (Gallimard, 1995)
  • Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave (Cape, 1997)
  • Dix Grenouilles (Ten Frogs) (Gallimard, 1997)
  • The Green Ship (Cape, 1998)
  • Zagazoo (Cape, 1998)
  • Zap! The Quentin Blake Guide to Electrical Safety (Eastern Electricity, 1998)
  • Fantastic Daisy Artichoke (Cape, 1999)
  • The Laureate's Party (Random House, 2000)
  • Un Bateau Dans le Ciel (Rue du Monde, 2000)
  • Words and Pictures (Cape, 2000)
  • Tell Me a Picture (National Gallery, 2001)
  • Loveykins (Cape, 2002)
  • Laureate's Progress (Cape, 2002)
  • Mrs Armitage, Queen of the Road (Cape, 2003)
  • A Sailing Boat In The Sky (Random House: Red Fox, 2003)
  • Angel Pavement (Cape, 2004)
  • You're Only Young Twice (Andersen Press, 2008)
  • Daddy Lost his Head (Andre Bouchard, 2009)
  • Quentin Blake: Beyond the Page (Tate Publishing Ltd, 2012)

As illustrator

Uncle (Jonathan Cape, 1964)
Uncle Cleans Up (Jonathan Cape, 1965)
Uncle and His Detective (Jonathan Cape, 1966)
Uncle and the Treacle Trouble (Jonathan Cape, 1967)
Uncle and Claudius the Camel (Jonathan Cape, 1970)
Uncle and the Battle for Badgertown (Jonathan Cape, 1973)
Collected as The Complete Uncle, Matador (2013)
  • "Pigeon of Paris" by Natalie Savage Carlson, Scholastic, 1974
  • "A Near Thing for Captain Najork" by Russell Hoban, Atheneum, 1976
  • The Wild Washerwomen: A new folk tale, by John Yeoman (1979) —highly commended runner-up for the Greenaway Medal[17][2]
  • Sad Book, by Michael Rosen (2004)

Blake has illustrated a score of books by Roald Dahl.[1]

He also illustrated the British edition of Agaton Sax, a Swedish-language series of comedy detective novels by Nils-Olof Franzén (originally illustrated by Åke Lewerth, 1955 to 1978).

  • Agaton Sax and the Diamond Thieves, 1965
  • Agaton Sax and the Scotland Yard Mystery, 1969
  • Agaton Sax and the Max Brothers (a.k.a. Bank Robbers), 1970
  • Agaton Sax and the Criminal Doubles, 1971
  • Agaton Sax and the Colossus of Rhodes, 1972
  • Agaton Sax and the London Computer Plot, 1973
  • Agaton Sax and the League of Silent Exploders, 1974
  • Agaton Sax and the Haunted House, 1975
  • Agaton Sax and the Big Rig (extended), 1976
  • Agaton Sax and Lispington's Grandfather Clock, 1978
  • The Learning JourneyNational Curriculum, key stages 1 and 2, illustrated editions for parents

Honours and awards

Blake was the inaugural British Children's Laureate (1999–2001)[3] and he received the biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award from the International Board on Books for Young People for his career contribution to children's literature in 1987.[1][2] He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2005 New Year Honours for his services to children's literature. In France he was made a Knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2002 and elevated to Officer in 2007.[18]

For Mister Magnolia, which he also wrote, Blake won the 1980 Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject.[15] For the 50th anniversary of the Medal (1955–2005), a panel of experts named it one of the top ten winning works, which composed the ballot for a public election of the nation's favourite.[19] He was also a highly commended Greenaway runner-up[2] for The Wild Washerwomen: A new folk tale, by John Yeoman (1979), and a commended runner-up[2] for Clown (1995), which he wrote himself.[17] He made the Greenaway shortlist[2] for Zagazoo (1998), which he wrote, and for Sad Book (2004) by Michael Rosen.

He won the Kurt Maschler Award, or the Emil, for All Join In (Jonathan Cape, 1990), which he wrote and illustrated. The award from Maschler Publications and Booktrust annually recognised one British "work of imagination for children, in which text and illustration are integrated so that each enhances and balances the other."[16]

Blake was awarded the Prince Philip Designers' Prize in 2011.

He received the Eleanor Farjeon Award in November 2012. The an annual award administered by Children's Book Circle recognises outstanding commitment and contribution to the world of British children's books.[20]

Blake was knighted in the 2013 New Year Honours for his services to illustration.[21] In March 2014 he was awarded the insignia of Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur at a ceremony at the Institut Français in London.[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b c WorldCat reports the twenty works by Blake that are most widely held by participating libraries. They are seventeen books written by Roald Dahl, Great Day for Up! by Dr. Seuss (rank 5), Michael Rosen's Sad Book (rank 14), and Wizzil by William Steig (rank 18).
    • "Blake, Quentin". WorldCat. Retrieved 2012-08-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e Today there are usually eight books on the Greenaway Medal shortlist. According to CCSU, some runners-up through 2002 were Commended (from 1959) or Highly Commended (from 1974). There were 99 commendations of both kinds in 44 years including two for 1979 (Blake highly commended) and two for 1995 (one highly).


  1. ^ a b (Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2002). International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).
      "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". IBBY. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  2. ^ a b "Quentin Blake" (pp. 108–09, by Eva Glistrup).
    The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online ( Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  3. ^ a b "Quentin Blake". Children's Laureate ( Booktrust. Retrieved 2013-09-28.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "The wonderful button" (first edition). Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 2012-08-27.
  6. ^  
  7. ^ a b "Bibliography: A complete searchable bibliography of books illustrated or authored and illustrated by Quentin Blake". Quentin Blake : Books : Bibliography ( Archived 2012-01-16 (without search function). Retrieved 2013-09-28.
  8. ^ The Campaign for Drawing.
  9. ^ "The Nightingale Project". The Nightingale Project. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  10. ^ "Quentin Blake - Home". Quentin Blake. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-16. 
  11. ^ Quentin Blake: Beyond the Page, 2012, Tate Publishing.
  12. ^ "Cover-up! Quentin Blake drafted in to hide 'unsightly' buildings". Richard Osley. The Independent. 21 October 2007.
  13. ^ "2010 Annual Report". Survival International.
  14. ^ "Books by Quentin Blake" (incomplete; no list). Quentin Blake.
  15. ^ a b (Greenaway Winner 1980). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  16. ^ a b "Kurt Maschler Awards". Book Awards. Retrieved 2012-07-16.
  17. ^ a b c "Kate Greenaway Medal". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  18. ^ Quentin Blake – website of Gallimard Jeunesse.
  19. ^ "70 Years Celebration: Anniversary Top Tens". The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
  20. ^ "Blake wins Eleanor Farjeon Award". Charlotte Williams. The Bookseller ( 16 November 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-01.
  21. ^ "Quentin Blake knighted in Queen's New Year honours".  
  22. ^ Sir Quentin Blake awarded Legion d'Honneur
  • D. Martin, "Quentin Blake", in Douglas Martin, The Telling Line: Essays On Fifteen Contemporary Book Illustrators (Julia MacRae Books, 1989), pp. 243–263
  • Quentin Blake, "Research from an illustrator's point of view", in Research in Illustration: Conference Proceedings Part II (Brighton Polytechnic) (1981), pp. 25–61

External links

Interviews and articles
  • "A free hand", Stuart Jeffries with Quentin Blake, The Guardian, 27 September 2007
  • Quentin Blake tells his life story (recording in 65 parts) at Web of Stories
  • Quentin Blake: Winner, Hans Christian Andersen Award, 2002 (recording), The Hans Christian Andersen Collection at Northwestern
  • Quentin Blake Visits Sidcup Library at the Wayback Machine (archived 21 November 2008), on 2007 dialogue with children
  • Quentin Blake at the Wayback Machine (archived 27 February 2009) at Random House Children's Books (archived 2009-02-27)
  • "What is illustration?" on YouTube (recording), extract from a presentation given by Quentin Blake to a teachers' workshop run by the House of Illustration and DCSF in July 2008
  • "Quentin Blake at 80: the illustrator's magical art", Jenny Uglow, The Guardian, 14 December 2012
Cultural offices
Preceded by
New post
Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by
Anne Fine
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