C. Walter Hodges

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C. Walter Hodges

Cyril Walter Hodges (18 March 1909 – 26 November 2004)[1] was an English artist and writer best known for illustrating children's books and for helping to recreate Elizabethan theatre. He won the annual Greenaway Medal for British children's book illustration in 1964.[2]


Cyril Walter Hodges was born in Beckenham, Kent, the son of Cyril Hodges, "a leading figure in advertising and copyrighting".[3] He was educated at Dulwich College, which he recalled as "a wretched imprisonment", and at Goldsmiths' College of Art.[1] Hodges fell in love with Greta Becker, a hopeful ballet dancer, and they married in 1936. She provided "complete domestic support" until she died in 1999.[1]

Hodges spent most of his career as a freelance illustrator. For many years he did line drawings for the Radio Times, as well as the cover of the 1938 Christmas edition. Among the writers for children with whom he collaborated as an illustrator were Ian Serraillier, Rosemary Sutcliff (The Eagle of the Ninth), Rhoda Power (Redcap Runs Away), Elizabeth Goudge (The Little White Horse) and William Mayne.

During a year spent in New York he was encouraged[by whom?] to write, as well as illustrate, Columbus Sails (1939), a work of historical fiction for children. It proved popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Its success eventually led to several others including The Namesake: A Story Of King Alfred and its sequel The Marsh King; Magna Carta; The Norman Conquest; and The Spanish Armada (1964 to 1967).[3][4] The Namesake was a commended runner up for the annual Carnegie Medal, which recognises the author of the year's best British children's book.[5][a]


Hodges' imagined view of an Elizabethan performance

Hodges designed costumes and scenery for the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool (1928–30) and for the Mermaid Theatre and St. George's Hall, London in the 1950s. His love of theatre led to him becoming an authority on the construction of the Globe and other theatres of Shakespeare's time.

From 1935 to 1999 he both wrote and illustrated five books about theatre in that time. He had thirty years experience in theatre practice and scholarship before doing Shakespeare's Theatre for children, published by Oxford University Press in 1964. For that he won the annual Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject.[2] Only one other Greenaway Medal in almost sixty years has been awarded for the illustration of nonfiction.[b] According to one library catalogue summary, Shakespeare's Theatre "[e]xamines how the pagan festivals and religious dramas performed throughout England evolved into the professional theaters, such as the Globe, in London."[4] It also illustrates and describes "Shakespeare's famous and now rebuilt Globe Theatre".[2]

Hodges argued in one of his books that "the theatre as an institution is the pre-eminent arrangement whereby human beings work out the models of their own conduct, their morality and aspiration, their ideas of good and evil, and in general those fantasies about themselves and their fellows which, if persisted in, tend to eventually become facts in real life. If this is so, and it would be hard to deny, then the theatre must be seen as a most powerful instrument in the social history of mankind, and its own history must therefore be allowed a corresponding importance."[6]

Conceptual drawing for Shakespeare's Globe in Detroit

Hodges's Shakespearean expertise led Wayne State University theatre department chair Leonard Leone to invite him to Detroit in the late 1970s and early 1980s to work on Leone's proposed reconstruction of the Globe Theatre on the Detroit River. The city suffered financially after the collapse of the U.S. auto industry and the project fell apart in 1982.

In 1986, Hodges sold his theatrical and Elizabethan drawings (almost 900 items) plus their copyright to the Folger Shakespeare Library.[7] Because the Folger makes its digital image collection available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license, the drawings are now free cultural works.[8]

Selected works[edit]

Hodges wrote and illustrated five theatre books. The first four (1935 to 1973) are his four works most commonly held in WorldCat participating libraries. The next most widely held, Magna Carta, also surpasses his illustrations of books by other writers.[4]

Books by Walter Hodges[edit]

The Globe Restored: a study of the Elizabethan theatre (1935)[4]
Shakespeare and the Players (1948) – fictionalised[4]Columbus Sails (1939)
Shakespeare's Theatre (Oxford, 1964) – The Little White Horse (1946), by Elizabeth Goudge
Shakespeare's Second Globe: the missing monument (1973) – Growing Up in Thirteenth Century England (1962), by Alfred Duggan
Enter the Whole Army: a pictorial study of Shakespearean staging, 1576–1616 (1999)[9] – 50 drawings with accompanying text[4]The Namesake: A Story Of King Alfred (1964)

Books by others illustrated by Hodges[edit]

Rosemary Sutcliff; The Chronicles of Robin Hood (Oxford, 1950)
Rosemary Sutcliff; The Queen Elizabeth Story (1950)
Rosemary Sutcliff; The Armourer's House (1951)
Rosemary Sutcliff; Brother Dusty-Feet (1952)
Rosemary Sutcliff; The Eagle of the Ninth (1954)
Rosemary Sutcliff; The Shield Ring (1957)
Twain, Mark; Huckleberry Finn (J. M. Dent & Sons, 1955 – Children's Illustrated Classics series)
Manning-Sanders, Ruth; 'Red Indian Folk and Fairy Tales (1960 - Roy Publishers, Inc.)
Alfred Duggan; Growing Up in 13th Century England (1962)
Baker, Margaret J. (Joyce); Hannibal and the Bears (George Harrap, 1964: “The Shoe Shop Bears series, no. 2")
Magna Carta (1966)
The Norman Conquest (1966)
The Marsh King: A Story Of King Alfred (1967), sequel to The Namesake
The Spanish Armada (1967)
The Overland Launch (1969) – about the 1899 episode from Lynmouth Lifeboat Station
The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1971), written by Robert Browning (1842), retelling the German legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin
The Battlement Garden: Britain from the Wars of the Roses to the age of Shakespeare (Andre Deutsch, 1979)
Work in another medium by Hodges
Painted Insurance mural representing; Fire, accident, marine and life (1934) – 20 Aldermanbury, City of London

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Since 1995 there are usually eight books on the Carnegie Medal shortlist. According to CCSU, some runners up were Commended (from 1959) or Highly Commended (from 1974). There were about 160 commendations of both kinds in 49 years from 1954 to 2002, including Hodges and three others for 1964.
  2. ^ Pauline Baynes won the 1968 Greenaway Medal for illustrating a reference book, A Dictionary of Chivalry (Longman, 1968), edited by Grant Uden. Since then two illustrators have won the medal for historical fictions that the librarians call "information books": Victor Ambrus for Horses in Battle (Oxford, 1975) and Chris Riddell for Pirate Diary (Walker, 2001), written by Richard Platt. A few other winning works may be called neither fiction nor non-fiction; for example, the alphabet book ABC (Oxford, 1962) by Brian Wildsmith.


  1. ^ a b c Tucker, Nicholas (1 December 2004). "C. Walter Hodges: Author-illustrator and Shakespeare scholar". The Independent. Independent Print, Ltd. Retrieved 9 September 2008.
  2. ^ a b c (Greenaway Winner 1964) Archived 29 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  3. ^ a b Newley, Patrick (18 January 2005). "C. Walter Hodges" (obituary). The Stage. thestage.co.uk. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Hodges, C. Walter ...". WorldCat. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Carnegie Medal Award". c. 2007. Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library, Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  6. ^ "About C. Walter Hodges" Archived 20 July 2012 at Archive.today. Shakespeare Out Loud. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
    This includes a quotation of Hodges' Shakespeare's Second Globe (1973).
  7. ^ Folger Shakespeare Library. "Guide to the C. Walter Hodges Collection of Elizabethan and Other Theatre Drawings, 1933-1990". Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Browse Folger Digital Image Collection". www.luna.folger.edu. Folger Shakespeare Library. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  9. ^ Knutson, Roslyn (2001). "Book Review: Walter Hodges, Enter the Whole Army: A Pictorial Study of Shakespearean Staging, 1576-1616. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999." Early Theatre 4.1: 165–167 (article 15). Retrieved from DigitalCommons@McMaster 19 February 2012.
  • Eve, Matthew (2004). "C. Walter Hodges: a life illustrating history", Children's Literature in Education 35 pp. 171–198.

External links[edit]