The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
List Price: $24.99*
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Randolph Caldecott is best known as the namesake of the award that honors picture book illustrations, and in this inventive biography, leading children’s literature scholar Leonard Marcus examines the man behind the medal. In an era when the steam engine fueled an industrial revolution and train travel exploded people’s experience of space and time, Caldecott was inspired by his surroundings to capture action, movement, and speed in a way that had never before been seen in children’s picture books. Thoroughly researched and featuring extensive archival material and a treasure trove of previously unpublished drawings, including some from Caldecott’s very last sketchbook, Leonard Marcus’s luminous biography shows why Caldecott was indeed the father of the modern picture book and how his influence lives on in the books we love today.
Randolph Caldecott (1846-86) was born in Chester, England, the son of a hatter. While still a child he showed his talent for drawing, modelling and carving, but he started his working life as a bank clerk before going to the Manchester School of Art at the age of twenty-one. He moved to London in search of commissions and produced drawings and cartoons for newspapers and journals before his first success with a set of one hundred and twenty drawings for Washington Irving's ""Old Christmas"" in 1876. It was his idea to produce a series of 'Toy Books' (picture books of a uniform size printed in colour), and this became the subject of the famous collaboration between the artist and the printer/engraver Edmund Evans. The first two - ""The House that Jack Built"" and ""The Diverting History of John Gilpin"" - were published in time for Christmas 1878 and the first printing of 10,000 copies sold out quickly. 'The very essence of all illustration for children's books', said"" The Times"" on Christmas Eve.
During the next seven years, Caldecott produced fourteen more Toy Books, illustrating nursery rhymes and songs with the interpretive skill that makes him such an important figure in the British picturebook tradition. He died, comparatively young, in St. Augustine, Florida.