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Raymond Briggs

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Title: Raymond Briggs  
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Subject: Kate Greenaway Medal, List of children's books made into feature films, Festivals (book), When the Wind Blows (1986 film), All in a Day
Collection: 1934 Births, Alumni of the Central School of Art and Design, Alumni of the Slade School of Art, Alumni of Wimbledon College of Art, British Book Award Winners, British Children's Book Illustrators, English Children's Writers, English Comics Artists, English Graphic Novelists, English Illustrators, Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature, Kate Greenaway Medal Winners, Living People, People Educated at Rutlish School, People from Wimbledon, London, Writers Who Illustrated Their Own Writing
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Raymond Briggs

Raymond Briggs
Born Raymond Redvers Briggs
(1934-01-18) 18 January 1934
Wimbledon, London, England
Nationality English
Area(s) Artist, writer, cartoonist, graphic novelist, illustrator
Notable works
Awards Kate Greenaway Medal
1966, 1973
Horn Book Award
British Book Award
1993, 1999

Raymond Redvers Briggs (born 18 January 1934) is an English illustrator, cartoonist, graphic novelist and author who has achieved critical and popular success among adults and children. He is best known in Britain for his story The Snowman, a book without words whose cartoon adaptation is televised and whose musical adaptation is staged every Christmas.[1]

Briggs won the 1966 and 1973 Kate Greenaway Medals from the British Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject.[2][3] For the 50th anniversary of the Medal (1955–2005), a panel named Father Christmas (1973) one of the top-ten winning works, which composed the ballot for a public election of the nation's favourite.[4]

For his contribution as a children's illustrator Briggs was a runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1984.[5][6]


  • Biography 1
  • Selected works 2
  • Adaptations 3
  • Awards and honours 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


Raymond Briggs was born in Wimbledon, London, England, to parents Ernest and Ethel Briggs, a milkman and a former lady's maid-turned-housewife. He attended Rutlish School, (then a grammar school), pursued cartooning from an early age and, despite his father's attempts to discourage him from this unprofitable pursuit, attended the Wimbledon School of Art from 1949 to 1953 to study painting, and Central School of Art to study typography.[7]

From 1953 to 1955 he was a conscript in the Royal Corps of Signals at Catterick where he was made a draughtsman.[2] After these two years of National Service, he returned to the study of painting at Slade School of Fine Art at University College, London, graduating in 1957.

After briefly pursuing painting, he became a professional illustrator, and soon began working in children's books. In 1958, he illustrated Peter and the Piskies: Cornish Folk and Fairy Tales, a fairy tale anthology by Ruth Manning-Sanders that was published by Oxford University Press. They would collaborate again for the Hamish Hamilton book of magical beasts (Hamilton, 1966). In 1961 Briggs began teaching illustration part-time at Brighton School of Art, which he continued until 1986.[8][9] He was a commended runner-up for the 1964 Kate Greenaway Medal (Fee Fi Fo Fum, a collection of nursery rhymes)[10][1] and won the 1966 Medal for illustrating a Hamilton edition of Mother Goose. According to a retrospective presentation by the librarians, The Mother Goose Treasury "is a collection of 408 traditional and well loved poems and nursery rhymes, illustrated with over 800 colour pictures by a young Raymond Briggs."[2]

The first three important works that Briggs both wrote and illustrated were in comics format rather than the separate text and illustrations typical of children's books; all three were published by Hamish Hamilton. Father Christmas (1973) and its sequel Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975) both feature a curmudgeonly Father Christmas who complains incessantly about the "blooming snow". For the former, he won his second Greenaway. Much later they were jointly adapted as a film entitled Father Christmas. The third early Hamilton "comics" was Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), featuring one day in the life of a working class Bogeyman with the mundane job of scaring human beings.

The Snowman (Hamilton, 1978) was entirely wordless, and illustrated with only pencil crayons.[11] Briggs said that it was partly inspired by his previous book, "For two years I worked on Fungus, buried amongst muck, slime and words, so... I wanted to do something which was clean, pleasant, fresh and wordless and quick."[12] For that work Briggs was a Highly Commended runner-up for his third Greenaway Medal; no one has won three.[10][1] An American edition was produced by Random House in the same year, for which Briggs won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, picture book category. In 1982 it was adapted by British Channel 4 as an animated cartoon, which was nominated for the annual "Oscar" and has since been shown every year on British television. On Christmas Eve 2012 the 30th anniversary of the original was marked by the airing of the sequel The Snowman and the Snowdog.

Briggs continued to work in a similar format, but with more adult content, in Gentleman Jim (1980), a sombre look at the working class trials of Jim and Hilda Bloggs, closely based on his parents. When the Wind Blows (1982) confronted the trusting, optimistic Bloggs couple with the horror of nuclear war, and was praised in the British House of Commons for its timeliness and originality. The topic was inspired after Briggs watched a Panorama documentary on nuclear contingency planning,[9] and the dense format of the page was inspired by a Swiss publisher's miniature version of Father Christmas.[13] This book was turned into a two-handed radio play with Peter Sallis in the male lead role, and subsequently an animated film, featuring John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft.[14] The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (1984) was a scathing denunciation of the Falklands War. However, Briggs continued to produce humour for children, in works such as the Unlucky Wally series and The Bear.

Briggs won the 1992 Kurt Maschler Award, or the Emil, both for writing and for illustrating The Man, a short graphic novel featuring a boy and a homunculus. The award annually recognised one British children's book for integration of text and illustration.[15] In 1993 he was named Children's Author of the Year by the British Book Awards. His graphic novel Ethel and Ernest, which portrayed his parents' 41-year marriage, won Best Illustrated Book in the 1999 British Book Awards.

His wife Jean, who suffered from schizophrenia, died from leukaemia in 1973, only two years after his parents. They did not have any children.

As of 2010, Briggs lives in a small house in Westmeston, Sussex;[16] because of the clutter he keeps a separate home from his partner, Liz, her children and grandchildren. He continues to work on writing and illustrating books.[17]

Selected works


(1982) Sony Video Software: 50QS 4011(Betamax)/50ZS 4011(VHS)
(2006) DVD NR, UPC 043396164369, Director Diane Jackson, approx. 29 minutes
The Snowman (1993) 29 min; and
Father Christmas (1997) 25 min (including material from Father Christmas Goes on Holiday)

Awards and honours

The biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award conferred by the International Board on Books for Young People is the highest recognition available to a writer or illustrator of children's books. Briggs was one of two runners-up for the illustration award in 1984.[5][6]

He has also won several awards for particular works.[12][19]

Fee Fi Fo Fum (1964) and The Snowman (1978) were Commended and Highly Commended runners-up for the Greenaway Medal.[10][1]

Ug was silver runner-up for the 2001 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Today there are usually eight books on the Greenaway Medal shortlist. According to CCSU, some runners-up were Commended (from 1959) or Highly Commended (from 1974). There were 99 distinctions of both kinds in 44 years including three for 1964, three 1978. There were 31 high commendations in 29 years including Briggs alone for 1978.
    • No one has won three Greenaways. Among the fourteen illustrators with two Medals, Briggs is one of seven with one book named to the top ten (1955–2005) and also one of seven with at least one Highly Commended runner-up (1974–2002), led by Helen Oxenbury with two Medals and four Hc.


  1. ^ Wroe, Nicholas (18 December 2004). "Bloomin' Christmas". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e (Greenaway Winner 1966). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b c (Greenaway Winner 1973). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  4. ^ "70 Years Celebration: Anniversary Top Tens". The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards. CILIP. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002". The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Pages 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online ( Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  7. ^ Raymond Briggs Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2009.
  8. ^ Briggs, Raymond – MSN Encarta.
  9. ^ a b read yourself RAW – Profile: Raymond Briggs
  10. ^ a b c "Kate Greenaway Medal". 2007?. Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  11. ^ "Guardian book club: Week two: Raymond Briggs on Father Christmas's terrible job ...". Raymond Briggs with John Mullan. The Guardian. 20 December 2008.
  12. ^ a b "Raymond Briggs". Puffin Books Authors. Puffin Books. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
    • Biography; Interview; Bibliography "Published by Puffin Books"
  13. ^ "Why I'd like to be a proper author: Strip cartoons are a botheration for Raymond Briggs". Raymond Briggs. The Guardian 1 November 2002. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
  14. ^ When the Wind Blows at the Internet Movie Database. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
  15. ^ a b "Kurt Maschler Awards". Book Awards. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  16. ^ Emily Walker (24 December 2010). "Snowman author says: "I hate Christmas" (From The Argus)". Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  17. ^ "Big kid, 'old git' and still in the rudest of health". Rachel Cooke. The Observer. 10 August 2008. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
  18. ^ Ring-a-ring o' roses. Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  19. ^ a b "Raymond Briggs". British Council: Literature. Retrieved 4 December 2012.

Further reading

  • Elaine Moss, "Raymond Briggs: On British attitudes to the strip cartoon and Children's book illustration", Signal (1979 January)
  • Richard Kilborn, The Multi-Media Melting Pot: Marketing 'When The Wind Blows' (Comedia, 1986)
  • D. Martin, "Raymond Briggs", in Douglas Martin, The Telling Line: Essays on Fifteen Contemporary Book Illustrators (Julia MacRae Books, 1989), pp. 227–42
  • Nicolette Jones, Raymond Briggs: Blooming Books (Jonathan Cape, 2003) —extracts from the published works of Briggs with text commentary by Jones
  • Barbara Baker, The Way We Write, (London: Continuum, 2006) ISBN 978-0-8264-9122-0
  • Anita Silvey (editor), The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators (Mariner Books, 2002) ISBN 978-0-618-19082-9

External links

  • Raymond Briggs at the Internet Movie Database
  • Raymond Briggs at British Council: Literature
  • Raymond Briggs at the Internet Book List
  • "Panel Borders: The Work of Raymond Briggs" radio interview broadcast 8 January 2009 (audio)
  • Search Raymond Briggs at Kirkus Reviews
  • Articles on Raymond Briggs at Comics Bulletin
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