The book begins with a small girl in West Kirby who is obsessed with comics: The Daily Sketch, The Daily Express and The Mirror-each of these newspapers helped to shape one of our finest illustrators. Shirley's story takes us from this gentle start, through the second world war, and to a career, which began with Art School in a blitzed Liverpool, led to Oxford, and then to London. Shirley reflects on art, and her own development, in a tale which is fascinating and full of personalities. She describes her own creative process as 'the nearest thing I know to flying into the sun' and it is this passion for the world of illustration, which shines through the book and gives it a unique personality. Lavishly illustrated throughout with sketches from her Italian sketchbooks, doodles from boring meetings, roughs from what would later become classic picture books and perfectly executed paintings done just for the fun of it, this book will be a treasured gift for those who love art and those who have grown up with the enduring characters from Shirley's books who inhabit so many homes through this country and beyond.
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(292mm x 244mm x 24mm)
The Bodley Head Ltd
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Shirley Hughes was warned as an art student that 'book illustration can only be practised as an adjunct to teaching or matrimony', and her lavishly illustrated biography shows how she was eventually able to refute this dictum. She tells how illustrating children's stories by other writers proved just a step on the way to creating her own much-loved picture books, in which 'words and images work together like left and right hands at the piano'. The bedrock of her art has always been the ability - unbelievably rare - to draw everyday children in everyday situations with complete naturalness and conviction. But then it seems she is never without her sketchbook at the ready, and the margins of this account of her life are brimming with characters observed and memories recorded at the time, from the most fleeting pencil sketches to sumptuous double-page studies of the Italian landscape. Her recall of growing up before, during and after the war in West Kirby near Liverpool is pin-sharp and unsentimental. Brief chapters explore the fascination of comics, seaside entertainments, cinema, books and paintings; but such early enthusiasms all lead on to aspects of her mature creative personality and those new genres of books for children which she has pioneered, notably fusing comic strip with more conventional techniques to tell a story on a number of levels. Shirley Hughes explains how she has always tried to have something in all her books for the adult who does the reading as well as for the child being read to. Now she has written a book which is an absolute 'must' for all connected with the world of children's books, but will also appeal to a wider readership for its rich and detailed observation of people, time and places. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Shirley Hughes
Shirley was born in West Kirby, near Liverpool, and studied fashion and dress design at Liverpool Art School, before continuing her studies at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford. She then embarked on a career as a freelance illustrator in London, where she still lives today. She illustrated other writers' work, including Noel Streatfeild, Alison Uttley, Ian Seraillier, Margaret Mahy and notably Dorothy Edwards's My Naughty Little Sister series. Shirley began to write and draw her own picture books when her children were young. Her first book - Lucy and Tom's Day - was published in 1960, and she followed it with, among others, Dogger and the Alfie series. Shirley Hughes has won the Other Award, the Eleanor Farjeon Award, and the Kate Greenaway Medal for Illustration twice, for Dogger in 1977 and for Ella's Big Chance in 2003. In 2007 Dogger was voted the public's favourite Greenaway winner of all time. Shirley received an OBE in 1999 for services to Children's Literature, and is the first recipient of Booktrust's Lifetime Achievement Award.