Steig in New York City on April 12, 1944. Photograph taken by Arnold Newman.
November 14, 1907|
Brooklyn, New York, USA
|Died||October 3, 2003
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
|Genres||Cartoons, Children's picture books|
|Notable award(s)||Caldecott Medal
National Book Award
CINE Golden Eagle
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth Mead Steig (m. 1936–1949)
Kari Homestead (m. 1950–1963)
Stephanie Healey (m. 1964–1966)
Jeanne Doron (m. 1968)
William Steig (November 14, 1907 – October 3, 2003) was a prolific American cartoonist, sculptor and, later in life, an illustrator and writer of popular children's literature. Most noted for the picture books Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Abel's Island and Doctor De Soto, he was also the creator of Shrek!, who inspired the popular movie series of the same name. Steig received acclaim not only for the quality of his illustrations but for the gracefulness of his prose style. The New York Times said Steig was "triumphant in the quality of his prose."
Early life 
Steig was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1907, to Polish-Jewish immigrants from Austria, both socialists. His father, Joseph Steig, was a house painter, and his mother, Laura Ebel Steig, was a seamstress who encouraged his artistic leanings. As a child, he dabbled in painting and was an avid reader of literature. Among other works, he was said to have been especially fascinated by Pinocchio. In addition to his artistic endeavors, he also did well at athletics, being a member of the collegiate All-American water polo team. He graduated from Townsend Harris High School at 15 but never completed college, though he attended three, spending two years at City College of New York, three years at the National Academy of Design and a mere five days at the Yale School of Fine Arts before dropping out of each.
Steig began drawing illustrations and cartoons for The New Yorker in 1930, producing more than 2,600 drawings and 117 covers for the magazine. Steig, later, when he was 61, began writing children's books. In 1968, he wrote his first children's book. He excelled here as well, and his third book, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (1969), won the Caldecott Medal. He went on to write more than 30 children's books, including the Doctor DeSoto series, and he continued to write into his nineties. Among his other well-known works, the picture book Shrek! (1990) formed the basis for the Dreamworks Animation film Shrek.
In 1984, Steig's film adaptation of Doctor DeSoto directed by Michael Sporn was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Also in 1984, Steig received the CINE Golden Eagle Award in Education. for the film adaptation of this book.
Personal life 
Steig married four times and had three children. From 1936 to 1949, Steig was married to educator and artist Elizabeth Mead Steig (1909–1983), sister of anthropologist Margaret Mead, from whom he was later divorced. They were the parents of jazz flutist Jeremy Steig and a daughter, Lucinda. He married second wife Kari Homestead in 1950, and they had a daughter, Margit Laura. After their divorce, he was married to Stephanie Healey from 1964 to 1966. His final marriage, to Jeanne Doron, endured for the rest of his life. His brother Irwin was a journalist and painter, and his brother Henry was a writer who played the saxophone and painted. His brother Arthur was a writer and poet, who, according to Steig, read The Nation in the cradle, was telepathic and "drew as well as Picasso or Matisse." Steig died of natural causes in Boston on October 3, 2003 at the age of 95. The closing credits for Shrek 2 noted: "In memory of William Steig, 1907–2003."
See also 
- "William Steig, 95, Dies; Tough Youths and Jealous Satyrs Scowled in His Cartoons". The New York Times. October 5, 2003.
- "Wry Child of the Unconscious; William Steig, 90, on Art, Life and the Mysterious Orgone". The New York Times. November 29, 1997.
- Puig, Claudia (May 30, 2001). "'Shrek!' author exclaims his approval of film". USA Today. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
- American Library Association: "Caldecott Medal Winners, 1938–Present". Retrieved 2009-05-27.
- "cine.org". Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- "Cartoonist Steig Dead at 95". Studio Briefing. October 7, 2003.
- Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Dominic, and Caleb + Kate were finalists for the National Book Award, Children's Literature.
"National Book Awards – 1970". National Book Foundation (NBF). Retrieved 2012-02-08. (Select 1970, 1973, and 1978 from the top left menu.)
- Doctor Dr. Soto shared a National Book Award in category Picture Books during the brief time there were multiple children's awards.
"National Book Awards – 1983". NBF. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
- Official William Steig Website
- Official Caldecott Website
- From The New Yorker to Shrek: The Art of William Steig
- Obituary: William Steig 1907-2003