Robert Lawson (author)

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Robert Lawson (October 4, 1892 – May 27, 1957) was an American author and illustrator of children's books.

Background[edit]

Born in New York City, Lawson spent his early life in Montclair, New Jersey. Following high school, he studied art for three years under illustrator Howard Giles (an advocate of dynamic symmetry as conceived by Jay Hambidge) at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (now Parsons School of Design), marrying fellow artist and illustrator Marie Abrams in 1922.[1] His career as an illustrator began in 1914, when his illustration for a poem about the invasion of Belgium was published in Harper's Weekly. He went on to publish in other magazines, including the Ladies Home Journal, Everybody's Magazine, Century Magazine, Vogue, and Designer.[2]

Camouflage service[edit]

During World War I, Lawson was a member of the first U.S. Army camouflage unit (called the American Camouflage Corps), in connection with which he served in France with other artists, such as Barry Faulkner, Sherry Edmundson Fry, William Twigg-Smith and Kerr Eby (Behrens 2009). In his autobiography, Faulkner recalls that Lawson had a remarkable "sense of fantasy and humor", which made him especially valuable when the camoufleurs put on musical shows for the children of the French women who worked with them on camouflage (Faulkner 1957).

Children's books[edit]

After the war, Lawson resumed his work as an artist, and in 1922, illustrated his first children's book, The Wonderful Adventures of Little Prince Toofat. Subsequently he illustrated dozens of children's books by other authors, including such well-known titles as The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (which later became an animated short by Walt Disney Productions in 1938) and Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. In total, he illustrated as many as forty books by other authors, and another seventeen books that he himself was author of, including Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin By His Good Mouse Amos (which also later became an animated short by Walt Disney Productions in 1953) and Rabbit Hill. His work was widely admired, and he became the first, and so far only, person to be given both the Caldecott Medal (They Were Strong and Good, 1941) and the Newbery Medal (Rabbit Hill, 1945). Ben and Me earned a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1961.[3]

Lawson was a witty and inventive author, and his children's fiction is no less engaging for grown-ups. One of his inventive themes was the idea of a person's life as seen through the eyes of a companion animal, an approach that he first realized in Ben and Me. Some of his later books employed the same device (which was compatible with his style of illustration) to other figures, such as Christopher Columbus (I Discover Columbus) and Paul Revere (Mr. Revere and I). Captain Kidd's Cat, which he both wrote and illustrated, is narrated by the feline in the title, named McDermot, who tells the story of the famous pirate's ill-starred voyage, in the process of which he is shown to have been a brave, upright, honest, hen-pecked man betrayed by his friends and calumniated by posterity. His artistic witticism and creativity can be seen in The Story of Ferdinand the Bull, where he illustrates a cork tree as a tree that bears corks as fruits, ready to be picked and placed into bottles.

Later life[edit]

In the early 1930s, Lawson became interested in etching. One of the resulting prints was awarded the John Taylor Arms Prize by the Society of American Etchers.

Lawson died in 1957 at his home in Westport, Connecticut, in a house that he referred to as Rabbit Hill, since it had been the setting for his book of the same name. He was 64. He is buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. An annual conference is held in his honor in Westport.

The Robert Lawson Papers are in the University of Minnesota Children's Literature Research Collections.[4]

Works[edit]

  • Chester, George Randolph, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Wonderful Adventures of Little Prince Toofat. New York: James A. McCann, 1922.
  • Mason, Arthur, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Wee Men of Ballywooden. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1930; New York: Viking Press, 1952.
  • Bianco, Margery Williams, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). "The House That Grew Small". St. Nicholas Magazine 58 (September 1931): 764–66, 782–83.
  • Mason, Arthur, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). From the Horn of the Moon. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1931. Excerpted as "Moving of the Bog", St. Nicholas Magazine 58 (July 1931): 644–47, 667–70.
  • Mason, Arthur, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Roving Lobster. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1931.
  • Untermeyer, Louis, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). "The Donkey of God". St. Nicholas Magazine 59 (December 1931): 59–61, 105–108.
  • Ring, Barbara, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Peik. Translated by Lorence Munson Woodside. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1932.
  • Young, Ella, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Unicorn with Silver Shoes. New York: Longmans, Green, 1932.
  • Bianco, Margery Williams, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Hurdy-Gurdy Man. New York: Oxford University Press, 1933.
  • Marquand, John P., Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Haven's End. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1933.
  • Haines, William Wister, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Slim. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1934.
  • Tarn, William Woodthorpe, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Treasure of the Isle of Mist. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1934.
  • Bates, Helen Dixon, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Betsy Ross. New York: Whittlesey House and McGraw-Hill, 1936.
  • Bates, Helen Dixon, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Francis Scott Key. New York: Whittlesey House and McGraw-Hill, 1936.
  • Gale, Elizabeth, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Seven Beads of Wampum. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1936.
  • Glenn, Mabelle, et al., eds., Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Tunes and Harmonies. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1936.
  • Leaf, Munro, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Story of Ferdinand. New York: Viking Press, 1936.
  • Sterne, Emma Gelders, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Drums of Monmouth. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1936.
  • Barnes, Ruth A., ed., Robert Lawson (Illustrator). I Hear America Singing: An Anthology of Folk Poetry. Chicago: John C. Winston Co. and the Junior Literary Guild, 1937.
  • Bowie, Walter Russell, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Story of Jesus for Young People. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1937.
  • Brewton, John E., Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Under the Tent of the Sky: A Collection of Poems about Animals Large and Small. New York: Macmillan, 1937.
  • Cormack, Maribelle, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Wind of the Vikings: A Tale of the Orkney Isles. New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1937.
  • Fish, Helen Dean, ed., Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Four and Twenty Blackbirds: Nursery Rhymes of Yesterday Recalled for Children of To-Day. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1937.
  • Kissin, Rita, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Pete the Pelican. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1937.
  • Rosmer, Jean, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). In Secret Service: A Mystery Story of Napoleon's Court. Translated by Virginia Olcott. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1937.
  • Sterne, Emma Gelders, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Miranda Is a Princess: A Story of Old Spain. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1937.
  • Stratton, Clarence, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Swords and Statues: A Tale of Sixteenth Century Italy. New York: John C. Winston Co. and the Junior Literary Guild, 1937.
  • Twain, Mark, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Prince and the Pauper. Chicago: John C. Winston Co., 1937.
  • Atwater, Richard, and Florence Atwater, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Mr. Popper's Penguins. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1938.
  • Dickens, Charles, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). A Tale of Two Cities. Boston: Ginn, 1938.
  • Farjeon, Eleanor, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). One Foot in Fairyland. New York: F. A. Stokes, 1938.
  • Haines, William Wister, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). High Tension. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1938.
  • Leaf, Munro, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Wee Gillis. New York: Viking Press, 1938.
  • Lawson, Robert. Ben and Me. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1939.
  • Bunyan, John, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Pilgrim's Progress. Text revised by Mary Godolphin. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1939.
  • White, T. H., Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Sword in the Stone. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1939.
  • Lawson, Robert. Just for Fun: A Collection of Stories and Verses. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1940.
  • Lawson, Robert. They Were Strong and Good. New York: Viking, 1940; rev. ed., 1968.
  • Brewton, John E, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Gaily We Parade: A Collection of Poems about People, Here, There and Everywhere. New York: Macmillan, 1940.
  • Lawson, Robert. I Discover Columbus. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1941.
  • Leaf, Munro, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Aesop's Fables. New York: Heritage Press, 1941.
  • Leaf, Munro, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Story of Simpson and Sampson. New York: Viking Press, 1941.
  • C.S. Forester, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Poo-Poo and the Dragons. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1942.
  • Gray, Elizabeth Janet, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Adam of the Road. New York: Viking, 1942.
  • Lang, Andrew, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Prince Prigio. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1942.
  • Stephens, James, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Crock of Gold. New York: Limited Editions Club, 1942.
  • Lawson, Robert. Watchwords of Liberty. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1943; rev. ed., 1957.
  • Lawson, Robert. Country Colic. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1944.
  • Lawson, Robert. Rabbit Hill. New York: Viking, 1944.
  • Lawson, Robert. Mr. Wilmer. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1945.
  • Hall, William, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Shoelace Robin. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1945.
  • Robinson, Tom, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Greylock and the Robins. New York: Viking Press and the Junior Literary Guild, 1946.
  • Lawson, Robert. At That Time. New York: Viking, 1947.
  • Lawson, Robert. Mr. Twigg's Mistake. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1947.
  • Lawson, Robert. Robbut: A Tale of Tails. New York: Viking, 1948.
  • Lawson, Robert. Dick Whittington and His Cat. New York: Limited Editions Club, 1949.
  • Lawson, Robert. The Fabulous Flight. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1949.
  • Lawson, Robert. Smeller Martin. New York: Viking, 1950.
  • Neilson, Frances F., and Winthrop Neilson, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Benjamin Franklin. Reader in Real People Series. New York: Row, Peterson, 1950.
  • Lawson, Robert. McWhinney's Jaunt. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1951.
  • Lawson, Robert. Edward, Hoppy and Joe. New York: Knopf, 1952.
  • Potter, Mary A., et al., Robert Lawson (Illustrator). Mathematics for Success. Boston: Ginn, 1952.
  • Lawson, Robert. Mr. Revere and I. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1953.
  • Lawson, Robert. The Tough Winter. New York: Viking, 1954.
  • Lawson, Robert. Captain Kidd's Cat. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1956.
  • Lawson, Robert. The Great Wheel. New York: Viking, 1957.
  • Coatsworth, Elizabeth, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Golden Horseshoe. New York: Macmillan, 1935; rev. ed., 1968.
  • Teal, Val, Robert Lawson (Illustrator). The Little Woman Wanted Noise. New York: Rand McNally, 1943; rev. ed., 1967.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Robert Lawson Biography". Bpib.com. 2000-02-25. Retrieved 2010-07-26. 
  2. ^ Newbery Medal Books: 1922–1955, eds. Bertha Mahony Miller, Elinor Whitney Field, Horn Book, 1955, LOC 55-13968, p. 259.
  3. ^ Award List. “Lewis Carroll Shelf Award Winners”, Lewis Carroll Shelf Award Collection, Living Arts Corporation, Loveland, Colorado.
  4. ^ "Robert Lawson Papers", University of Minnesota Library, David E Byer
Citations
  • Faulkner, Barry, Sketches from an Artist's Life. Dublin, New Hampshire: William Bauhan, 1973.
  • "Robert Lawson" in Walt Reed, The Illustrator in America 1860–2000. New York: Society of Illustrators, 2001, p. 186. ISBN 0-942604-80-6.
  • "Robert Lawson" in Roy R. Behrens, Camoupedia: A Compendium of Research on Art, Architecture and Camouflage. Dysart, Iowa: Bobolink Books, 2009, p. 221. ISBN 978-0-9713244-6-6.