Children's Laureate 1999-2001
Quentin Blake was born in 1932 and read English at Cambridge, before attending Chelsea Art College.
His first drawings were published in Punch at the age of 16 and he has since illustrated more than 250 books by 80 different writers.
His best-known collaborations include those with writers Russell Hoban, Joan Aiken, Michael Rosen, and, of course, Roald Dahl.
From 1978 to 1986, he was head of the Illustration department at the Royal College of Art and is now a visiting professor and senior fellow of the College.
He has won many major prizes for illustration, including the Kate Greenaway Medal (1980) and the Red House Children's Book Award (1981) for Mister Magnolia; the Kurt Maschler Award (1990) for All Join In; the Bologna Ragazzi Prize (Italy) and the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (Bronze Award) (both 1996) for Clown; and the Kurt Maschler Award and Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (Bronze Award) (both 1998) for The Green Ship.
He is also the winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration and in 1990 was voted 'The Illustrator's Illustrator' by Observer Magazine.
A tireless promoter of children's literature, Quentin Blake was awarded the OBE in 1988, and in 1999, he became the inaugural Children's Laureate. In 2005 he was awarded a CBE for services to Children's Literature.
Quentin's time as Children's Laureate
Quentin recorded his experiences as the first ever Children's Laureate in the book Laureate's Progress, which he has called 'a kind of diary with pictures'.
As Laureate, he also selected work for the first Children's Laureate exhibition 'Tell Me A Picture' (also published as a book) held at the National Gallery in 2001. The exhibition comprised 26 pictures by artists and illustrators, each illustrating a different letter. Promoting illustration was a key focus for Quentin's time as Laureateship, and during his time in the role he conceived the idea for the House of Illustration, the world's first centre dedicated to the art of illustration in all its forms, now in development in the heart of the King’s Cross regeneration area.
As part of his Laureateship, Quentin Blake also spent a year collaborating on a project to produce a book about environmental and humanitarian issues with 1800 French-speaking schoolchildren, entitled Un Bateau dans le Ciel (A Sailing Boat in the Sky).Other books produced through his Laureateship were The Laureate's Party, celebrating fifty of his favourite children's books and Words and Pictures, a visual biography exploring the 'challenges and opportunities of illustration'.
He was also featured in the British Council touring exhibition, 'Magic Pencil' (2002-3), which celebrated the best in contemporary children's illustration.