Quentin Blake Brings Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter to Life

Posted by Speakeasy News > Monday 19 September 2016 > What's On

Quentin Blake's illustrations are instantly recognisable to anyone who has ever read a Roald Dahl's children's book. And now he has illustrated a long-lost story by Beatrix Potter.

Blake's illustrations have helped form generations of readers' image of Roald Dahl's characters. When Blake was asked to illustrate Roald Dahl's first book for younger children, The Enormous Crocodile, in 1979, it was a match made in heaven. Blake said of Dahl's text, "It's a kind of caricature, and that's where Roald and I met very much. In a sense, what he wrote was like what I drew in the degree of exaggeration and comedy in it."

In fact Blake started with caricature, having his first drawings published in the satirical magazine Punch at the age of just 16. Blake went on to illustrate all of Dahl's books, as well as working with many other authors such as Michael Rosen, Joan Aiken and David Walliams.

Blake was named Britain's first ever Children's Laureate (1999-2001), and the only one to be an illustrator rather than an author until the nomination of Chris Riddell, the current Laureate, in 2015.

An exhibition of his illustrations, Inside Stories, is on show at the National Museum of Wales, Roald Dahl's birthplace, till 20 November.


Beatrix Potter and Quentin Blake
Beatrix Potter comes from an altogether gentler school of children's illustration. Potter illustrated as well as wrote stories about Peter Rabbit, Miss Tiggy Winkle and many other animal characters. While preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of her birth, her publishers discovered a hitherto unknown manuscript: The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots. Potter hadn't illustrated it, leaving just one sketch of the title character. So Blake was asked to draw his version, published in September.

Potter's humorous tale of a cat that lives a double life — by day a quiet pet, by night a daring adventurer — fits surprisingly well with Blake's cartoon-like style.