The illustrious illustrator is a rare breed whose work dwells in the pages of books. From the fictional to the factual, from children’s books to graphic novels – here is the breeding ground for some truly extraordinary art. It is a remarkable and enviable skill to be able to get inside the head of a writer and reproduce their vision without actually ever being able to see it.
Many a celebrated coupling has been forged on the anvil of illustration: Quentin Blake & Roald Dahl, Goscinny & Uderzo, and A. A. Milne & E. H. Shepard – one name forever being allied with the other. A fantastic synergy of writer and artist whose works live alongside each other in happy symbiosis, decorating the annals of storytelling. It is at this moment that books are instinctively transformed in to vessels of art whose visuals help to ratify these fantastical worlds that their authors have conjured up.
And then there is that remarkable hybrid – the rarest class of them all – when a person assimilates these two spheres in one body. Take the example of Beatrix Potter, whose art work has gained as much celebrity as the stories themselves. She and few others fall into this elusive and venerable category.
No wonder then that these book illustrations that have coloured so many of our childhoods, and parenthoods too, are such coveted items. Their brilliance is transcendental, and will continue to be so at any age. To see our favourite classic illustrated books, that should form the core of any children’s book collection please scroll down.