Archive for the ‘Illustrators and Illustration’ Category

A  self-decscribed  British blogger, book-collector, book-dealer, publisher and writer featured childrens’ author Rosemary Sutcliff  a number of times on his blog, in one instance writing of the illustrations in the 1955 novel Outcast (OUP, 1955).
(The illustrator) Richard Pitt Kennedy … worked as a publisher’s apprentice at the Hogarth Press under Virginia and Leonard Woolf. He was a prolific illustrator and from what I can see, these illustrations for Sutcliff, which look like crayon on textured board are somewhat unusual for a man whose main illustration work was done in pen and ink wash. He was a great admirer of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, one of the founders of the Vorticist movement; there is little sign of that in these images. But he was prolific and clearly, someone who illustrates such a quantity of material is going to demonstrate a certain variety over time.

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Mabel George was central to the children’s books division at Oxford University Press when Rosemary Sutcliff was published by OUP.

A printer’s daughter, she joined OUP in 1946 as a production assistant. From 1948-56 she was was production manager. She took over the whole department in 1956.

From then to her retirement in 1974 she developed an astonishing array of artists and writers.She discovered a cockney gasman, Charles Keeping; a Hungarian refugee, Victor Ambrus; Bridget Riley’s ex-assistant, Fiona French – and Brian Wildsmith. Mabel saw his potential when he first arrived with some abstract paintings. She set him to work on black and white illustrations first and then turned him loose in full colour on the Arabian Nights. To this day he remembers the review in the TLS (Times Literary Supplement): ‘We now descend to the lowest depths with Brian Wildsmith’s…pointless scribbles which do duty for drawings wander aimlessly about the page.’

‘Take no notice, Brian,’ said Mabel. ‘We make up our own minds here. We’re now going to do an ABC.’ This he did, won the Kate Greenaway Medal, and changed the face of picture books.

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A new post on Twitter by the ‘husband of an artist’, set me thinking about Rosemary Sutcliff’s life as an artist. She started out as a painter, trained at Bideford Art School. Her miniatures were exhibited, including at the Royal Academy.

Note on Rosemary Sutcliff as miniaturist


Sadly, I do not know where most of them are. This I found in the records of an auction site.

Rosemary Sutcliff miniature paining The Falconer 1952


She was a member of the Royal Society of Miniaturists, but they have none of her pictures. They do have pictures by Edwin Morgan, who she studied with.


Charles Marks Esq by Edwin Ernest Morgan, miniature painter


Her start as a painter influenced her writing: she once said she found she needed to work on a bigger canvas—hence novels, but she retained a painter’s eye for detail and creating a picture in the reader’s eye. She also took a great interest in the illustrators of her books , such as Charles Keeping.

Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliff was illustrated by Charles Keeping



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Listed here is every title by Rosemary Sutcliff, the author and writer of historical fiction and children’s books. (Regular followers—and other visitors—you may like to check that this accords with your understanding. All comments about inaccuracies and additions are very welcome, below)

Eagle of the Ninth and similar

The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), illustrated by C. Walter Hodges
The Silver Branch (1957), illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Lantern Bearers (1959), illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Capricorn Bracelet  (1973), illustrated by Charles Keeping
Three Legions (1980), omnibus edition containing the first three books  (more…)

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From Warrior Scarlet by Charles Keeeping

Warrior Scarlet Cover

Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliff was illustrated by Charles Keeping

More about the illustrators of Rosemary Sutcliff’s books here on the Rosemary Sutcliff blog

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Collage of Rosemary Sutcliff covers from Library Thing 1

A collage of covers of Rosemary Sutcliff books, taken from Library Thing.

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Charles Keeping, Grendel from Beowulf

I am inching forwards in compiling a complete listing of all the illustrators of Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels for children and adults, and of her writing for children (and others). I think this is now  accurate  – but does not yet cover book covers – but would as always welcome comments and improvements to the updated list. I think it may now be complete? But I need to move on to editions outside the UK. All help welcome.

Illustrators  are:  Lazlo Acs, Victor Ambrus, Michael Charlton, Emma Chichester Clark, Richard Cuffari, Shirley Felts, C Walter Hodges, Jane Johnson, Charles Keeping, Richard Kennedy, John Lawrence, Richard Lebenson, Alan Lee, John Vernon Lord,  Alan Marks,  and Ralph Thompson. The books they illustrated were: (more…)

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