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Sir Quentin Blake CBE, FCSD, RDI

 

Sir Quentin Saxby Blake, CBE, FCSD, RDI (born 16th December 1932) is an English cartoonist, illustrator and children's writer. He may be known best for illustrating books written by Roald Dahl.

Blake was born in 1932 in Sidcup, Kent, and was evacuated to the West Country during the war. He went to Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, where his English teacher, J H Walsh, influenced his ambition to become involved in literature. His first published drawing was for the satirical magazine Punch, at the age of 16. He read English Literature at Downing College, Cambridge from 1953 to 1956, received his postgraduate teaching diploma from the University of London, and later studied at the Chelsea School of Art. He gained another teaching diploma at the Institute of Education before working at the Royal College of Art for over twenty years; he was head of the Illustration department from 1978 to 1986.

Blake illustrated The Wonderful Button by Evan Hunter, published by Abelard-Schuman in 1961.

Blake gained a reputation as a reliable and humorous illustrator of more than 300 children's books, including some written by Joan Aiken, Elizabeth Bowen, Roald Dahl, Nils-Olof Franzén, William Steig, and Dr. Seuss —the first Seuss book that "Seuss" did not illustrate himself, Great Day for Up! (1974).

He recently illustrated David Walliams's first and second books, The Boy in the Dress and Mr Stink.

In the 1970s Blake was an occasional presenter of the BBC children's story-telling programme Jackanory, when he would illustrate the stories on a canvas as he was telling them.

In 1993 he designed the five British Christmas issue postage stamps featuring episodes from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Quentin Blake is patron of the Blake Society, Downing College's arts and humanities society. He is also a patron of "The Big Draw" which aims to get people drawing throughout the United Kingdom, and of The Nightingale Project, a charity that puts art into hospitals. Since 2006 he has produced work for several hospitals and mental health centres in the London area, a children's hospital (hopital Armand Trousseau) in Paris, and a maternity hospital in Angers, France. These projects are detailed in Blake's 2012 book Quentin Blake: Beyond the Page, which describes how, in his seventies, his work has increasingly appeared outside the pages of books, in public places such as hospitals, theatre foyers, galleries and museums.

In 2007 he designed a huge mural on fabric, suspended over and thus disguising a ramshackle building immediately opposite an entrance to St Pancras railway station. The rendering of an "imaginary welcoming committee" greets passengers arriving on the Eurostar high-speed railway.

Blake is also the designer of 'Ben', the 'logo' of the shop chain, Ben's Cookies.