MAKING A MARK: RIP Raymond Briggs (1934

There’s not many people who went to the Slade School of Art who have achieved critical and popular success – among and children – for their illustrations and text and best selling cartoons and picture books.

Raymond Briggs CBE (18 January 1934 – 9 August 2022) was a British illustrator, cartoonist, graphic novelist and author. He was also a Patron of the Association of Illustrators. He died on Tuesday age 88 years old.

“Raymond liked to act the professional curmudgeon, but we will remember him for his stories of love and of loss. I know from the many letters he received how his books and animations touched people’s hearts. He kept his curiosity and sense of wonder right up to the last.” Hilary Delamere, Briggs’s literary agent.

Lifeline

  • 18 January 1934 – born in Wimbledon. His Dad was a milkman and his Mum was a former Lady’s Maid.
  • 1949 to 1953 – studied painting at Wimbledon School of Art and typogrea[hy at Central School of Art
  • 1953 to 1955 – National Service conscript
  • 1955 – 1957 – studied painting at Slade School of Art
  • 1961 – 1986 – Briggs began teaching illustration part-time at Brighton School of Art
  • 1958 onwards – Illustrating books

Awards

  • 1966  –  Won the Kate Greenaway Medal for The Mother Goose Treasury
  • 1973 – Won the Kate Greenaway Medal, for Father Christmas
  • 1977 – Francis Williams Award for Illustration (Victoria and Albert Museum), for Father Christmas
  • 1979 – Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (U.S.), for The Snowman
  • 1979 – Silver Pen Award (Netherlands)
  • 1982 – Children’s Rights Workshop Other Award
  • 1982 – Francis Williams Award for Illustration, for The Snowman
  • 1992 – Kurt Maschler Award, for The Man
  • 1992 – Children’s Author of the Year, British Book Awards
  • 1998 – Illustrated Book of the Year, British Book Awards, for Ethel & Ernest
  • 2012 – British Comic Awards Hall of Fame
  • 2014 – Phoenix Picture Book Award for The Bear

His own publications

He switched to writing as well as illustrating and producing his own picture books because it was much better paid. He explains how it took 10 years for this to dawn on him in the video below. Plus provides a few very pertinent tips for those interested in illustrating picture books for children. It’s a fascinating listen!

The illustrated book is around for a long time and has much more permanence.

He initially produced his own work in comic book format. 

His own illustrated publications included:

  • Jim and the Beanstalk (1971), by Briggs
  • Father Christmas (1973), by Briggs —winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal[4] – about a curmudgeonly Father Christmas who hates the snow
  • Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975), by Briggs (ISBN 0-698-30584-1; LoC: 75–2541)
  • Fungus the Bogeyman (Hamilton, 1977), by Briggs – featuring one day in the life of a working class Bogeyman with the mundane job of scaring human beings.
  • The Snowman (1978), no text and illustrated only with colored pencils
  • Gentleman Jim (1980), by Briggs – a sombre look at the working class trials of Jim and Hilda Bloggs, closely based on his parents.
  • When the Wind Blows (1982), by Briggs —sequel to Gentleman Jim
  • The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (Hamilton, 1984), by Briggs
  • The Man (1992), by Briggs
  • The Bear (1994), by Briggs
  • Ethel & Ernest: A True Story (Jonathan Cape, 1998) — about his parents
  • Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age (Jonathan Cape, 2001), by Briggs
  • The Puddleman (2004, ISBN 0-09-945642-7)
  • Notes from the Sofa (Unbound 2015, ISBN 978-1-78352-130-2) – an illustrated compilation of reflections on life and what it means to get older

A number of these were adapted for television and film – notably The Snowman.

Although The Snowman is his most famous creation, Raymond leaves behind a treasure trove of work – from his hilariously grumpy Father Christmas to the graphic novel based on his parents’ lives, Ethel and Ernest, his characters reach far and wide.

“Raymond was a brilliantly observant, funny storyteller, honest about how life is rather than how adults might wish to tell it to children. A kindness, integrity, and generosity run through all his books. (The Snowman Facebook Page)

He also illustrated:

  • Peter and the Piskies: Cornish Folk and Fairy Tales (Oxford, 1958), retold by Ruth Manning-Sanders
  • The Fair to Middling 1959. Arthur Calder-Marshall. Rupert Hart-Davis, London
  • Ring-a-ring o’ Roses (Hamish Hamilton, 1962), a collection of nursery rhymes[34] —his first book to be published in the US
  • Fee Fi Fo Fum (1964) — a picture book of nursery rhymes
  • The Mother Goose Treasury (Hamilton, 1966), from Mother Goose —winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal
  • The Christmas Book (1968), by James Reeves
  • Shackleton’s Epic Voyage (1969), by Michael Brown
  • All in a Day (Philomel Books, 1986), written by Mitsumasa Anno, illustrated by Anno and others
  • Unlucky Wally (1987)
  • Unlucky Wally 20 Years On (1989)
  • The Adventures of Bertby Allan Ahlberg (2001, US ISBN 0-374-30092-5)
  • A Bit More Bert, by Allan Ahlberg (2002, US ISBN 0-374-32489-1)
His family provided a statement

“We know that Raymond’s books were loved by and touched millions of people around the world, who will be sad to hear this news. Drawings from fans – especially children’s drawings – inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned up on the wall of his studio.

“He lived a rich and full life, and said he felt lucky to have had both his wife Jean, and his partner of over 40 years Liz in his life.

“He shared his love of nature with Liz on South Downs walks and on family holidays to Scotland and Wales. He also shared his sense of fun and craziness with his family, and with his family of artist friends – at get-togethers, fancy dress parties and summer picnics in the garden.

“He played practical jokes and enjoyed them being played on him. All of us close to him knew his irreverent humour – this could be biting in his work when it came to those in power. He liked the Guardian editorial describing himself as an ‘iconoclastic’ national treasure’.”

Other obituaries and tributes

An author and illustrator of children’s books sensitive to emotions, he used comic-strip-like panels to explore the joys and struggles of workaday British life.

Leave a Comment