Sequence from 'The Witches'.

Sir Quentin Blake is a British illustrator, cartoonist and caricaturist, renowned for his spontaneous, charming and scribbly graphic style. Blake is most famous as the official illustrator of the children's books by Roald Dahl, whose colorful characters he cemented in many readers' minds. He additionally collaborated with authors like John Yeoman, Michael Rosen ('Sad Book'), Russell Hoban ('Captain Najork'), Joan Aiken ('Arabel & Mortimer'), Ellen Blance Ann Cook ('Big Monster') and J. Gathorne-Hardy ('Cyril Bonhamy'). Blake also wrote children's books of his own; the best-known being 'Patrick' (1973), 'Mister Magnolia' (1980) and 'Clown' (1998). His illustration work regularly uses sequential narratives, particularly in 'Clown'. Some of his cartoons for Punch can also be described as pantomime comics. In the 1980s, Blake additionally drew a balloon comic, 'Waldo and Wanda', scripted by John Yeoman, which ran in Cricket Magazine. Active for more than half a century, Quentin Blake's artwork is still popular among generations of children and nostalgic adults.

Early life and studies
Quentin Blake was born in 1932 in Sidcup, Kent. On his fourth birthday, in 1937, he received his first copy of the children's comic magazine The Chicks' Own. The boy was particularly captivated by the work of Arthur White, who showed obvious influence from French illustrator Benjamin Rabier. Blake kept this issue his entire life and decades later, devoted an article to it, 'A Book to Remember', published in The Guardian on 28 February 2001. From an early age, Blake showed talent for drawing. Among his graphic influences were Ronald Searle, Honoré Daumier, André François, George Cruikshank, Pablo Picasso and John Burningham. In 1939, when the United Kingdom got involved in the Second World War, Blake was evacuated to the West Country, where children were safer from Nazi bombings. His Latin teacher recognized his gift for drawing. Since she was married to cartoonist Alfred Jackson, she helped the 16-year old boy to sell his first cartoons in the satirical magazine Punch. For decades, Blake remained a frequent illustrator in its pages. He designed covers, articles and headers for the columns 'City and Country' and 'Criticism'. In 1951, during his military service, the young recruit illustrated his first book, 'English Parade' (1951), intended to teach illiterate soldiers.

Between 1953 and 1956, Blake studied English Literature at Downing College, Cambridge. During this period, he was offered a position as one of Punch magazine's editors. Since it wasn't what he wanted to do in life, nor interrupt his studies for, he initially turned down the offer. However, the following day he felt remorse and phoned the publisher, only to find out the position was already taken. Blake graduated in 1956 and achieved a postgraduate teaching diploma from the Institute of Education at the University College of London. During this period, the student magazine Granta ran his drawings.

Punch cover by Quentin BlakePunch cover by Quentin Blake
Cover illustrations for Punch magazine.

Career in education
Blake spent one year working as an English teacher at the London-based Lycée Français de Londres - AKA "the French Lycée" - before deciding to pursue a career in drawing instead. In 1957, he studied part-time at the Chelsea School of Art, and later attended Camberwell College of Art. His Chelsea mentor was painter Brian Robb, who left Blake the contents of his studio after passing away in 1979. In 1965, Quentin Blake became an art teacher at the Royal College of Art and between 1978 and 1986, he was head of their illustration department.

Book illustrations
Around 1957, Blake's drawings appeared in Punch and The Spectator, followed later on by magazines such as The Listener and New Society. In 1961, one of his cover designs for The Spectator led to a commission to illustrate a special about children's book illustrators. Blake marvelled at the idea of illustrating children's books. He asked his school friend John Yeoman to write a book he could illustrate. The end result was 'A Drink Of Water' (1960), which marked both gentlemen's debuts. Over the decades, Yeoman wrote many other titles, all illustrated by Blake: 'Alphabet Soup' (1969), 'The Boy Who Sprouted Antlers' (1971), 'Sixes and Sevens' (1971), 'Mouse Trouble' (1972), 'Beatrice and Vanessa' (1974), 'The Puffin Book of Improbable Records' (1975, reissued in 1993 as 'The World's Laziest Duck and other Amazing Records'), 'The Young Performing Horse' (1977), 'The Wild Washerwomen' (1979), 'Rumbelow's Dance' (1982), 'Our Village' (1988), 'The Family Album' (1993), 'Featherbrains' (1993), 'The Singing Tortoise and Other Animal Folktales' (1993), 'The Do-It-Yourself House That Jack Built' (1994), 'Douze Mois Pour Rire: L'Agenda de la Rentrée' (1994), 'Mr. Nodd's Ark' (1995), 'Up With Birds!' (1998), 'The Heron and the Crane' (1999), 'Amazing Animal Stories' (2011), 'The Fabulous Foskett Family Circus' (2013) and 'All the Year Round' (2017). Some of the Yeoman-Blake collaborations were series, namely 'The Bear' (1969-1970, 1984) and 'Old Mother Hubbard's Dog' (1989).

Thanks to Yeoman, Blake became a much in demand illustrator. For more than half a century, he livened up book covers and interiors by countless authors, too many to summarize. He gained notability by illustrating the humor columns of Patrick Campbell, which were compiled in popular paperbacks from 1960 on. His art also adorned the book covers of Rex Benedict's stories and Sid Fleischmann's 'Josh McBroom' series. While Blake has illustrated adult fiction, he is most famous for his work on children's books. From 1964 on, he illustrated J.P. Martin's 'Uncle' series, about a billionaire elephant. He drew for Ennis Rees' playful language books, such as 'Riddles Riddles Everywhere' (1964) and 'Gillygaloos and Gollywhoppers: Tall Tales About Mythical Monsters' (1969). Very popular were Joan Aiken's short stories about the little girl Arabel and her uncontrollable mayhem-causing raven Mortimer. From 1973 on, Aiken and Blake made several stories about Arabel and Mortimer, serialized in the children's magazine Cricket. The books are reprinted to this day.

Cartoon by Quentin Blake
Comic strip for Punch magazine.

Another regular collaborator was author Russell Hoban. Inspired by Blake's illustrations for his book 'How Tom Beat Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen' (1974), Hoban instantly wrote a sequel, 'A Near Thing for Captain Najork' (1975). From 1976 on, Blake also illustrated numerous titles in Ellen Blance Ann Cook's 'Big Monster' series, starring a big, purple but friendly monster. In the 1980s, he drew J. Gathorne-Hardy's stories about the unlikely hero 'Cyril Bonhamy'. In the 2000s, he also lent his art to the books 'The Boy in the Dress' (2008) and 'Mr. Stink' (2009), both written by 'Little Britain' comedian David Walliams. Blake was also the first artist allowed by Dr. Seuss to illustrate one of his books, 'Great Day for Up!' (1974), a task the famous author usually kept for himself.

Quentin Blake frequently teamed up with Michael Rosen, with whom he made several happy children's short stories, such as 'You Can't Catch Me!' (1981) and 'Don't Put Mustard in the Custard' (1985). However, their most celebrated and awarded book, 'Sad Book' (2004), is a somber reflection on the death of Rosen's 18-year old son Eddie, who succombed to meningococcal septicaemia. For Blake, it was quite a departure, since he was commonly associated with happy-go-lucky illustration work. While critics wondered whether the subject matter wasn't too heavy for him, the illustrator actually found it an interesting challenge. The images in 'Sad Book' support the story's gloomy but not defeatist tone, and depict both the father's grief and his happy memories of his son.


From: 'Sad Book'.

Style
Quentin Blake draws in a loose, sketchy but vibrant style. Unlike what people might think, the illustrator takes a lot of effort to get this effect, using a lightbox to retrace and alter his preliminary sketches. Nevertheless, his drawings look like they rolled from his pen in one stroke. His water colors rarely stay within the wobbly ink lines. Characters' limbs are crooked and bent in unnatural ways. Hands are unable to really grasp. Blake once compared his drawing style to handwriting, since it's scribbly and highly personal. He never bothers with details, feeling readers can imagine those themselves. What he aims for is atmosphere. Indeed, Blake's drawings have the same naïve but joyful spirit of a children's drawing. Interviewed by Ellie Olcott for Varsity, posted on 13 February 2015, he explained: "If it goes over the line, it isn't really by accident! It's scratchy and looks like it hasn't been finished, but really its exactly what I intend. I think the drawings appear spontaneous much in the same way someone acting on stage appears to be spontaneous, even though they have rehearsed it many times! People acting, speaking lines as if he just thought of them."

Recurring elements in Blake's drawings are birds. Some of his best known stories feature bird characters, like the Raven in Joan Aiken's 'Arabella and the Raven' and the Roly-Poly Bird in the Roald Dahl stories. He devoted full-length solo books to them, such as 'Cockatoos' (1992) and 'The Life of Birds' (2005). Birds appear in the backgrounds of many of his other illustrations too. Interviewed by Fiona Sturges for The Guardian (29 February 2020), he said he had no clue why he liked them so much, yet suggested it might have something to do with the fact that "they've got two legs, like us?" He also figured that since birds can fly, it's easy to separate them from their background and have them appear anywhere on the drawing that suits him.


Illustration from 'The BFG'.

Roald Dahl
Of all the writers he has worked with, Blake is often named in one breath with the Welsh novelist and short fiction writer Roald Dahl. Dahl earned his original fame writing for adults, but from the 1960s on, he gained enduring popularity as a children's book writer. His works are notorious for their imaginative, funny and often sadistic content. Dahl's early books of the 1960s and 1970s had no regular illustrator. During those decades, the artwork was supplied by Michael Simeon, Faith Jacques, William Pène du Bois, Donald Chaffin, Jill Bennett, Rosemary Faucet, Nancy Elkholm Burkert and Joseph Schindelman. The first book assigned to Quentin Blake was 'The Enormous Crocodile' (1978). Contrary to Dahl's earlier children's works, this was not a novel but a picture story. The tale about a hungry, giant crocodile required a colorful illustration on every page. Since the story aimed at younger children, Blake was a perfect choice. The author later stated that Blake perfectly captured the spirit of his stories.

From that moment on, Blake illustrated nearly all of Dahl's children's books: 'The Twits' (1980), 'George's Marvellous Medicine' (1981), 'The BFG' (1982), 'Revolting Rhymes' (1982), 'The Witches' (1983), 'The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me' (1985), 'Matilda' (1988), 'Rhyme Stew' (1989), 'Esio Trot' (1990) and 'The Vicar of Nibbleswicke' (1991). He also livened up the pages of 'Roald Dahl's Guide to Railway Safety' (1991) and his month-by-month reflection on his past life, 'My Year' (1993). Only two new titles since 1978 featured illustrations by other artists, namely 'Dirty Beasts' (illustrated by Rosemary Fawcett, 1983) and 'The Minpins' (illustrated by Patrick Benson, 1991). Interviewed by Ellie Olcott for Varsity (13 February 2015), Blake recalled that by the time Dahl wrote 'The BFG' their working relationship was so excellent that the author often changed details in his manuscript after seeing Blake's visualizations. Most involved the Big Friendly Giant's clothing. Originally, Dahl envisioned him wearing an apron, but once Blake drew him with one, he realized this would be unpractical for the character to wear on his journeys. Blake also dressed the character with sandals, after Dahl sent him his own sandals by mail. After Dahl's death in 1990, Blake retroactively illustrated all of the author's available children's books he hadn't done before. Interestingly enough, he has also illustrated some French-language translations of Dahl's adult stories, which never reappeared in English or any other language.

Being the official illustrator of Dahl's books, Blake also provided artwork for all related merchandising, including compilation books, quiz books, posters, T-shirts, mugs, figurines, and so on. Some reprints of Dahl's children's books were illustrated by different artists, among them Emma Chichester Clark, Lane Smith, Jordan Crane, Michael Foreman, Pat Marriott and Tony Ross. But in general, Dahl and Blake are so intertwined than one can barely imagine them without each other. Many unforgettable characters live on in readers' memories the way Blake designed them. He was a natural in drawing good-natured protagonists like the Big Friendly Giant, Muggle-Wump the Monkey, the Roly Poly Bird and Matilda Wurmwood, but the artist proved equally adept in portraying the more gruesome antagonists in Dahl's chilling universe, including the Giants in 'The BFG', George's cranky grandmother, the despicable couple Mr. and Mrs. Twit, the Grand Witch and headmistress Agatha Trunchbull. Stage, film and TV adaptations often cast their actors based on Blake's graphic portrayals. In 1991, Abbey Home Entertainment adapted Dahl's 'Revolting Rhymes' and 'Dirty Beasts' into a series of animated TV shorts, directly based on Blake's original illustrations. On the other hand, cartoonist Bill Asprey used his own style for the newspaper comic based on 'The BFG' (1986-1998) he made with journalist Brian Lee for Mail on Sunday. On 4 March 2011, a special comic strip based on Dahl's book 'Matilda' by Aaron Renier appeared on unshelved.com, specifically using the Quentin Blake character designs.


'Clown'.

Solo books
Besides being a productive illustrator for others, Quentin Blake has also written books of his own. In 1968, Jonathan Cape published Blake's first self-written story, 'Patrick' (1968), which was also his first work in color. At the time, all his illustration work was done in black-and-white and therefore he never received a commission for color drawings. Blake, in his own words, "retaliated" by writing a story about a violinist who can make things change color whenever he plays his instrument, therefore forcing publishers to allow him to work in color. In 1973, the story was adapted into an animated short by Gene Deitch. Blake's first regular children's book series was 'Lester', about a strange crocodile-like creature and his friends Otto the toad and Flap-Earned Lorna the roller-skater. Blake published two titles about these characters, 'Lester at the Seaside' (1975) and 'Lester and the Unusual Pet' (1975). His second best known series is 'Mrs. Armitage', starring an eccentric elderly lady and her dog Breakspear. The first book, 'Mrs. Armitrage on Wheels' (1987), received two sequels: 'Mrs. Armitage and the Big Wave' (1997) and 'Mrs. Armitage, Queen of the Road' (2003).

Among the most beloved stories written by Quentin Blake are the award-winning 'Mister Magnolia' (1980) and 'Clown' (1998). The first is a story in rhyme about a trumpeter, the second a pantomime picture story about a toy clown who is thrown away with other old toys. He then decides to find a new home for himself and his friends. The 'Clown' story is interesting for comic fans, because Blake often juxtaposes separate images on pages, much like panels in a comic book. Some scenes, like the moment when Clown is thrown out of a window, are sequential illustrations. In interviews, Blake often expressed fondness for 'Clown', saying he regards it as the work he's most proud of. In 2020, Eagle Eye Drama produced an animated short adaptation of 'Clown', broadcast on Channel 4 as a Christmas Special.

Other books written and illustrated by Blake are 'A Band of Angels' (1969), 'Jack and Nancy' (1969), 'Angelo' (1970), 'Snuff' (1973), 'The Story of the Dancing Frog' (1984), 'Quentin Blake's ABC' (1989), 'All Join In' (1990), 'Cockatoos' (1992)., 'Simpkin' (1993), 'The Quentin Blake Book of Nonsense Verse' (1994), 'The Quentin Blake Book of Nonsense Stories' (1996), 'Ten Frogs' (1997), 'Zagazoo' (1998), 'The Green Ship' (1998), 'Fantastic Daisy Artichoke' (1999), 'Loveykins' (2002), 'Angel Pavement' (2004), 'The Life of Birds' (2005), 'Vive Nos Vieux Jours!' (2007, 'You're Only Young Twice!'), 'Angelica Sprocket's Pockets' (2010), 'The Five Of Us' (2014) and 'The Weed' (2020).


Illustration from 'Lester and the Unusual Pet'.

Classics of world literature
Not limiting himself to contemporary authors, Blake revisualized several classics of world literature. For Penguin Books he designed covers to reprints of Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh and Margaret Drabble novels. He went for full-length graphic reinterpretations of famous novels such as Jules Verne's 'Around the World in Eighty Days' (1966), Aristophanes' 'The Birds' (1971), Mark Twain's 'Huckleberry Finn' (1983), George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' (1984), Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' (1993), Miguel de Cervantes' 'Don Quixote' (1995), 'The Seven Voyages of Sindbad The Sailor' (1996, retold by John Yeoman), Victor Hugo's 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (1998), Voltaire's 'Candide' (2011), Apuleuis' 'The Golden Ass' (2015), Cyrano de Bergerac's 'Voyages to the Moon and the Sun' (2018) and John Ruskin's 'The King of the Golden River' (2019). Of all classics, Blake named 'Voyages to the Moon and the Sun' his favorite, because it's one of the earliest science fiction stories. In the same way, the artist reinterpreted classic short stories like 'The True History of Sir Tom Thumb' (1979) and Rudyard Kipling's 'How the Camel Got His Hump' (1984), as well as world folklore ('The Princes' Gifts' [1997], retitled in 2010 as 'Magical Tales'). In 2016, Blake was given the honor of illustrating a previously unpublished book by Beatrix Potter, titled 'The Tale of Kitty-In-Boots'. He did the same for classic poetry books like Lewis Carroll's 'The Hunting of the Snark' (1976), Ogden Nash's 'Custard and Company' (1979), Hilaire Belloc's 'Algernon and Other Cautionary Tales' (1991) and 'Cautionary Verses' (1993), Jean de La Fontaine's 'Fifty Fables' (2013), as well as collected poetry by various authors, such as 'Because A Fire Was In My Head' (2001) and 'Promenade de Quentin Blake au Pays de la Poésie Française' (2003).

Translations
Blake also illustrated English-language editions of books by foreign authors, such as Nils-Olof Franzén ('Agaton Sax'), Emanuele Luzzati ('Tre Civette Sul Comò', translated by John Yeoman as 'Three Little Owls') and several books by Bianca Pitzorno ('La Casa Sull'Albero' [1990], 'Ascolta il Mio Cuore' [1991]). On the other side, some of his book illustrations were only published in French-language translations, such as Georges Berton's 'Les Trucs du Détective et de L'Agent Secret' (1981), Jacqueline Balcells' 'Un Pirate dans la Ville' (1993), Marie Nimier's 'Une Mémoire d'Eléphant' (1997) and Patricia MacLachlan's 'Sarah, Plain and Tall' novels. He additionally illustrated Aline Guichard's 'Pourquoi Tu Ne Manges Pas, Amélie Ramolla?' (1993), a series of cautionary tales originally appearing in the French children's magazine Astrapi. Blake also illustrated books by foreign authors that only received English translations afterwards, such as Michel Tournier's 'Pierrot' (1990) and André Bouchard's 'La Tête Ailleurs' ('Daddy Lost His Head', 2008).

Non-fiction
Although he is most famous for illustrating stories, Blake occasionally leant his talent to non-fiction as well. Thanks to his sprankling graphic style, he is a popular illustrator of joke, quiz and puzzle books. He contributed to educational books as well, most prominently about language teaching, such as 'Great Green Limericks' (1989), D. Mackay's 'The Birthday Party' (1970) and Gillian Edwards' 'Hogmanay and Tiffany: The Names of Feasts and Fasts' (1970). Blake worked on 'Zap! The Quentin Blake Guide to Electrical Safety' (1998) and both the ages 3-7 and 7-11 volumes of the new school curriculum, 'The Learning Journey: Parents' Guide to National Curriculum' (2000). He is likewise concerned about people's health, livening up the pages of Peter Rowan's 'Ask Dr. Pete' (1986), Dr. Alan Maryon Davis' 'Feeling Good! Easy Steps to Staying Healthy' (2007), Tim Hall's 'History of Medicine' (2013) and Glenda Fredman, Eleanor Anderson & Joshua Stott's 'Being with Older People' (2013). Blake also decorated guides about gardening (Charles Connell's 'Aphrodisiacs in Your Garden', 1965), wine (Cyril Ray's 'In A Glass Lightly', 1967) and cooking (James Roose-Evans' 'Cook-a-Story', 2005).


'Waldo and Wanda' from Dutch children's magazine Taptoe #29, 1982.

Waldo and Wanda
In 1974, Blake became an illustrator for the children's magazine Cricket. His best known feature in the magazine was the comic strip 'Waldo and Wanda', written by longtime associate John Yeoman. Waldo and Wanda are a brother and sister who give readers practical tips on cooking or handcraft, although things often go disastrously wrong. In thought balloons, their cat provides commentary on their actions. The series also appeared in Dutch in the children's magazine Taptoe under the title 'Waldo and Wanda Warwinkel'. In 1984, episodes of 'Waldo and Wanda' were compiled into the book 'Crash! The Waldo and Wanda Book of Practical Hints' (Magnet, 1984).

Radio, TV and theatrical work
Blake created illustrations for the compilation books 'Gardeners' Question Time' (1964, 1966) and 'Motoring and the Motorist' (1965), both based on BBC radio shows of the same name. He was a regular on the BBC children's TV show 'Jackanory' (1965-1996), where he told stories about Lester and Flap-Eared Lorna while drawing them on a canvas. A collection was published in 1973 under the title 'Wizards are A Nuisance', written by Norman Hunter and illustrated by Blake. He also designed a reading course for children, originally broadcast on TV and later collected in book form by Geoffrey Broughton as 'Peter and Molly' (1968). The animated intermezzos in the children's TV show 'Squeak!' (2007) on CITV were also by his hand. In addition, he illustrated a book based on the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' (1982).

Advertising
Blake designed Ben, the mascot of the English shop chain Ben's Cookies.


'The Story Of The Dancing Frog', 1984. 

Graphic contributions
Between 1964 and 1966 Quentin Blake illustrated the first, second and third volume of James Britton's 'Oxford Book of Stories for Juniors'. He was one of the illustrators of Michael Morpurgo's 'Beyond the Rainbow Warrior' (1996), promoting Greenpeace, and 'The Birthday Book' (2008), a compilation of extracts from various children's books to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Prince of Wales. Blake joined many illustrators to contribute to the game books 'The Great Games Book' (1985), 'Happy Families' (1993) - edited by Richard Cohen - and 'Play the Shape Game' (2010), edited by Anthony Browne. He drew a double page for the 2009 French translation of Rudyard Kipling's 'If', published by Gallimard Jeunesse. He was one of 71 artists to contribute to 'Sketch Travel' (Hachette Livre, 2011), where artists from all over the world passed the pencil to each other.

Blake has drawn for many poetry collections. He was one of several artists to contribute to Brian Thompson's 'Birds' (1978), 'People' (1978), 'Animals' (1978) and 'Weather' (1978). He illustrated a collection of poems about fauna, 'Your Animal Poems' (1969) and the traditional poem 'Jerry Hall' in 'Under the Spell of the Moon' (2004). He also worked on Michael Morpurgo and Jane Feaver's 'Cock Crow' (2005), a charity collection of ancient poetry about the countryside, illustrated by modern artists for the Farms for City Children cause. Blake illustrated the fairy tale 'Les Fées' in a reprint of Charles Perrault's 'Fairy Tales' (Albin Michel Jeunesse, 1996) and 'Beauty and the Beast' in 'Dare To Be Different' (1999), an Amnesty International anthology of folk tales. He illustrated Ian Serraillier's 'Birthday Treat' in Kaye Webb's 'Round About Six' (2007) and contributed to Iona Opie's 'Tail Feathers from Mother Goose' (1988), and 'Flights of Fancy. Stories, Pictures and Inspiration from Ten Children's Laureates' (2019).

Together with John Cassidy, Quentin Blake made the drawing guide, 'Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered' (1999). In the guide 'Tell Me A Picture' (2001), Blake picked his favorite paintings from the National Gallery. He made a similar catalogue for the collection of the Petit Palais museum in Paris: 'Quentin Blake et les Demoiselles des Bords de Seine' (translated as 'Women of Paris In Pictures', 2005). He also illustrated the cover of 'The Good Book Guide to Children's Books' (1983), and of 'The Bicycle' (2011) for Save the Children, which sponsored bicycles for Cambodia school children. Finally he designed five stamps based on Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'.

Written contributions
Quentin Blake wrote a foreword to reprints of Hilaire Belloc's 'Cautionary Verses' (1993), Edward Lear's 'So Much Nonsense' (2007), E. Nesbit's 'Five Children and It' (2008) and George Cruikshank's illustrations to 'Grimm's Fairy Tales' (2012). He and Laurie Britton Newell compiled 'The Illustrators. Ludwig Bemelmans' (2019). In all above cases, he contributed none or but a few illustrations of his own. The artist provided an introduction to Peter Dickinson's 'Hundreds and Hundreds' (1984): a collection of short stories by known writers, and to Joanna Carey's 'In The Land of Illustrations' (2005) and 'The Best of Punch Cartoons in Colour' (2012). He wrote the foreword to the English translations of Daniel Pennac's 'Les Droits du Lecteur' ('Rights of the Reader', 2006) and 'Chagrin d'École' ('School Blues', 2010). In a great honor, he not only designed the book cover of '1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up' (2009), but also provided the introductory text. Last but not least he paid homage to his idol Ronald Searle in the foreword to 'What! Already? Searle at 90. A Celebration' (2010).

Mural paintings
As a member of The Nightingale Project since 2006, Blake has created mural art to brighten up the walls of (children's) hospitals and mental health centres in London, as well as Paris and Angers, France. In 2007, he designed a mural painting near the St. Pancras railway station in London. Two years later, he made 'An Informal Panorama' (2009), a giant frieze nowadays visible at Addenbrooke's Hospital, celebrating great historical figures who were once students at Cambridge University. In 2018, Blake designed a similar project for the Science Museum in London, paying homage to 20 scientists and inventors of the past 200 years. In 2020, Blake created a wall painting called 'The Taxi Driver' for the Hastings Contemporary Art Gallery in East Sussex. The title refers to a taxi driver who told him that "we live in worrying times: you should make your own version of Picasso's 'Guernica' to express it." Yet the veteran artist made a more general reflection on worldwide victims of wars, forced immigration, homelessness and other atrocities. He also included today's youth, who have no clue what to do about the world's misery. Because of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the museum had to close for visitors. Luckily, the curators installed a robot camera who can roll around the museum and make it possible for visitors to admire Blake's painting online.


First half of a two-page autobiographical strip for the Puffin Post Vol.7, #1. 

Recognition
Throughout his career, Quentin Blake has been covered in prizes. His illustrations for Russell Hoban's 'How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen' won the Whitbread Award (1974), while his work in Michael Rosen's 'Sad Book' was bestowed with the English Book Award for Category 4-11 (2004). In the Netherlands, he won two "Zilveren Penselen" ("Silver Pencils"), one for Roald Dahl's 'The BFG' (1984), the other for his own 'The Story of the Dancing Frog' (1985). 'Mr Magnolia' won the Kate Greenaway Medal for Best Children's Book Illustration by a British Subject (1980) and the Dutch "Pluim van de Maand" ("Plume of the Month", 1991). Blake's 'All Join In' won the Kurt Maschler Award (1990), 'The Green Ship' the Nestle Smarties Book Prize (1998) and 'Clown' the International Bologna Regazzi Prize (2004). Quentin Blake was additionally bestowed with the Hans Christian Andersen Award (2002), J.M. Barrie Lifetime Achievement Award (2008), Prince Philip Designers Prize (2011) and Eleanor Farjeon Award (2012). "Sir" Quentin Blake 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 named a "Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters" (Chevalier dans l'Orde des Arts et des Lettres, 2002), and "Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters" (Officer dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 2007). He also received the French Légion d'Honneur (2014). Blake has additionally received a CBE medal (2005), Knight Bachelor (2013) and was made a Honorary Freeman of the City of London (2005).

Cultural activities
Between 1999 and 2001, Quentin Blake was named British Children's Laureate. His task was to promote children's literature for a period of two years. He collaborated with 1,800 French schoolchildren to make the book 'Un Bateau Dans Le Ciel' (2000), which was later translated into 'A Sailing Boat in the Sky'. In 'Laureate's Progress' (2002) he wrote about his two year tenure as the first Children's Laureate. The veteran is a member of the Chelsea Arts Club, the Royal Society, Royal Designers for Industry (1980) and a trustee of the House of Illustration in London, the Roald Dahl Foundation (nowadays Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children Charity) and ambassador for the indigenous rights NGO Survival International. He is additionally a patron of the Blake Society, Downing College's arts and humanities society The Big Draw.

Since 1990, Quentin Blake is a curator of exhibitions, among others in the National Gallery, the British Library and the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris. He was subject of his own exhibition 'Quentin Blake - Fifty Years of Illustration' at Somerset House in London between 2003 and 2004. Another exhibition, 'Quentin Blake: As Large as Life', toured the UK between 2011 and late 2014.

Legacy and influence
Quentin Blake was an influence on Peter van Straaten, Judith Vanistendael, Jean Bourguignon and Mas Hab. In 2002 the bilingual German-English school in Berlin was named The Quentin Blake Europe School and since 2015 the children's library at the Institut Français in London sports the name "Bibliothèque Quentin Blake".

Books about Quentin Blake
In the 21st century, Quentin Blake chronicled his life and career in autobiographical the 'Words and Pictures' (2000), 'Beyond the Page' (2012) and 'Pens, Ink and Places' (2018). Under the title 'The QB Pepers' (2019), Blake released a series of sketch books. A different side of the artist is shown in '100 Figures. The Unseen Art of Quentin Blake' (2018-2019) and the travel catalogue 'Moonlight Travellers' (2019). A collection of 250 portraits drawn with a Sennelier paste stick is compiled in 'Sennelier Portraits' (2020). Joanna Carey wrote a biography about the famous illustrator: 'Quentin Blake' (2014).

www.quentinblake.com

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