Raymond Briggs, author and illustrator
Raymond Briggs (1934 – 2022), trained at the Wimbledon School of Art and the Slade. His father was a milkman and his mother a maidservant. Since 1957 he has been an illustrator and writer, mainly of children’s books but also adult political satire, stage plays and radio plays.
His best known titles are Father Christmas (1973), Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), The Snowman (1978), When the Wind Blows (1982), The Tinpot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (1984), The Man (1992) and Ethel & Ernest (1998).
His books have won many awards including Illustrated Book of the Year, Children’s Book of the Year, the Kate Greenaway Medal twice (in 1966 for the Mother Goose Treasury, and in 1973 for Father Christmas), and the Francis Williams Illustration Award from the V & A (in 1982). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
He wrote the following on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Brighton School of Art in 2009:
“‘You can do the black and white and I’ll do the colour’. This was said to me by an illustrator friend in 1961. She wanted to give up one of her days at Brighton and Mr Biggs had asked her to find a replacement. Nowadays this would be called A Strategic Interdisciplinary Forward Planning Proposal.
“Mr Biggs interviewed me and took me on. This was despite my having been an illustrator for scarcely three years, and a fine art student for six years. I had no experience of teaching and now received no guidance.
“There was no curriculum, no planning, and there were no meetings. Five of us, one-day part-timers, went in on different days and never met, despite teaching the same group of students.
“Mr Biggs told us to dress smartly and wear a tie, ‘to set an example to the students’. This, just at the dawn of the hippy era. Students called us ‘mister’ and would ask permission to leave the room. Gradually, first names came to be used.
“There were strange happenings called life classes. These were where a member of the public would come in, take off all their clothes and stand still for a couple of hours, stark naked. Students sat around drawing them. Students in an art school drawing? How quaint.
“Over the years, bureaucracy increased remorselessly. Long meetings were held discussing such matters as ‘cohorts’, ‘discrete areas’ and other big words. Whether the standard of student work was improved by this is debatable.
It was all a world away from ‘You do the black and white and I’ll do the colour’.”
Raymond Briggs, 2009