There’s not many people who went to the Slade School of Art who have
achieved critical and popular success – among adults and children – for
their illustrations and text and best selling cartoons and picture books.
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.
[UPDATE: There’s a wonderful film about Raymond Briggs and his book on
iPlayer – Raymond Briggs: Snowmen, Bogeymen and Milkmen – BBC – I highly recommend it.]
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
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
He initially produced his own work in comic book format.
- Jim and the Beanstalk (1971), by Briggs
- Father Christmas (1973), by Briggs —winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal – 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
Bogeyman with the
mundane job of scaring
- The Snowman (1978), no text and illustrated only with coloured pencils
Gentleman Jim (1980), by Briggs – a sombre look at the
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
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
The Fair to Middling 1959. Arthur Calder-Marshall. Rupert
Ring-a-ring o’ Roses (Hamish Hamilton, 1962), a collection of
—his first book to be published in the U.S.
Fee Fi Fo Fum (1964) — a picture book of
The Mother Goose Treasury (Hamilton, 1966), from
—winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal
The Christmas Book (1968), by
Shackleton’s Epic Voyage (1969), by
All in a Day
(Philomel Books, 1986), written by
illustrated by Anno and others
- Unlucky Wally (1987)
- Unlucky Wally 20 Years On (1989)
The Adventures of Bert, by
A Bit More Bert, by
Articles about him on the BBC website include:
“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.
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.
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
“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.