Errol Le Cain
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Errol Le Cain (5 March 1941 – 3 January 1989) was a British animator and children's book illustrator. He won the 1984 Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject. The book was Hiawatha's Childhood (Faber & Faber), based on "a very short extract" from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1855 epic poem The Song of Hiawatha.
Errol Le Cain was born 5 March 1941 in Singapore and evacuated with his family next year when Japan invaded. They lived in India for several years before eventually settling in the U.K. after World War II.
With no formal art education, his talent was nevertheless evident from an early age. Fascinated by cinema, he made his first animated film, The Enchanted Mouse, with a friend's 8-mm camera at age 11. His next work, The Little Goatherd, was created with a 16-mm camera at age 15. It came to the attention of British film distributor Pearl & Dean and he moved to London that year (1956) to pursue a career in animation.
Married with two children, he died after a long illness on 3 January 1989, aged 47.
Animation & TV work
In 1965, Le Cain joined Richard Williams's animation studio and worked on a wide range of animation projects, including film titles for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Casino Royale, and The Charge of the Light Brigade. His most important work with Richard Williams was for the never-finished (1964 to 1992) animated film The Thief and the Cobbler.
His animation work for the BBC began with a production of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" (1845), first broadcast on BBC2 on Christmas Day 1976, using live actors over backdrops designed by Le Cain. A picture-book version of the story with his illustrations was published by Viking Kestrel in 1979. This production was followed by The Light Princess (broadcast 24 December 1978 BBC2), The Mystery of the Disappearing Schoolgirls (28 December 1980) and Leon Garfield's The Ghost Downstairs (broadcast 26 December 1982 on BBC2).
Children's book illustration
Le Cain's first children's illustrations were published by Faber and Faber in King Arthur's Sword (1968), which began a long association with Faber that continued to his death. Le Cain illustrated 48 children's books during his lifetime, noted for their richly decorative watercolours and masterful command of design and colour. He was commended for the 1969, 1975, and 1978 Greenaways before winning the 1984 Medal and was commended again for 1987. The four commended books were The Cabbage Princess, which he wrote himself; Thorn Rose, or the Sleeping Beauty from Brothers Grimm; Twelve Dancing Princesses, which he retold from Brothers Grimm; and The Enchanter's Daughter by Antonia Barber.[a]
Selected children's books
- King Arthur's Sword (Faber, 1968)
- The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin (Jonathan Cape, 1968), by Idries Shah, illustrated by Richard Williams and Le Cain; (Williams alone had illustrated Shah's first collection of Nasrudin stories)
- The Cabbage Princess (Faber, 1969) —commended for the Greenaway[a]
- Sir Orfeo (Faber, 1970)
- The Child in the Bamboo Grove (Faber, 1971)
- Cinderella (Faber, 1972)
- The King's White Elephant (Faber, 1973)
- King Orville and the Bullfrogs (Faber, 1974)
- Thorn Rose, or the Sleeping Beauty (Faber, 1975) —commended for the Greenaway[a]
- The Flying Ship (Faber, 1975)
- The Twelve Dancing Princesses (Faber, 1978) —commended for the Greenaway[a]
- Beauty and The Beast (Faber, 1979)
- The Snow Queen (Viking Kestrel, 1979), by Hans Christian Andersen (1845 original)
- Mrs Fox's Wedding (Faber, 1980)
- Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (Faber, 1981)
- Molly Whuppie (Faber, 1983)
- Hiawatha's Childhood (Faber, 1984) selected from Longfellow —winner of the Greenaway Medal
- Growltiger's Last Stand and Other Poems (Faber, 1986)
- Christmas 1993 or Santa's Last Ride (Faber, 1987)
- The Enchanter's Daughter (Cape, 1986), by Antonia Barber —commended for the Greenaway[a]
- Alfi and the Dark (Hodder & Stoughton, 1988)
- The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Faber, 1988)
- Mr Mistoffelees with Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer (Faber, 1990)
- Today the Greenaway Medal shortlist typically comprises eight books. According to CCSU, some runners-up through 2002 were Commended (from 1959) or Highly Commended (from 1974). There were 99 commendations of both kinds in 44 years, including two for 1969, two 1975, three 1978 (one highly commended), and three 1987.
- (Greenaway Winner 1984). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- "King Arthur's sword". WorldCat. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- "Kate Greenaway Medal". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University. (CCSU). Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- "The pleasantries of the incredible Mulla Nasrudin,". WorldCat. Retrieved 2012-11-27.
- Errol Le Cain, The Enchanter of Images (Holp Shuppan, Japan 1992)
- Veronica Ortenberg West-Harling, "Errol Le Cain's Fairy Tales as Manuscript Illustration", in Cahier Calin: Makers of the Middle Ages. Essays in Honor of William Calin, ed. Richard Utz and Elizabeth Emery (Kalamazoo, MI: Studies in Medievalism, 2011), pp. 33–35
- The Illustrated Work of Errol Le Cain (errollecain.com), archived 2012-06-05
- Errol Le Cain Legacy fan site
- Errol Le Cain at Library of Congress Authorities, with 41 catalogue records