Edward Ardizzone

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Edward Ardizzone
Edward Ardizzone - Official War Artist Art.IWMARTLD4056.jpg
Ardizzone in uniform by Henry Carr, (1944) (Art.IWM ART LD 4056)
Born Edward Jeffrey Irving Ardizzone
(1900-10-16)16 October 1900
Haiphong, Tonkin
Died 8 November 1979(1979-11-08) (aged 79)
Rodmersham Green, Kent, England, UK
Occupation Artist, illustrator, writer
Nationality British
Genre Children's books
Notable works Tim All Alone (1956)

Edward Jeffrey Irving Ardizzone, CBE, RA (16 October 1900 – 8 November 1979) was an English artist and creator of children's books.

For Tim All Alone (Oxford, 1956), which he wrote and illustrated, Ardizzone won the inaugural Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject.[1] For the 50th anniversary of the Medal (1955–2005) it was named one of the top ten winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite.[2]

Early life[edit]

Ardizzone's father, of Italian descent, was born in Algeria, then a colony of France, and worked on overseas government service elsewhere in the French colonial empire. Ardizzone's mother was English. Edward was born in the port city of Haiphong, in what is now Vietnam, but which was then known as Tonkin, in the north of French Indo-China.

In 1905, Mrs Ardizzone returned to England with her three eldest children. They were brought up in Suffolk, largely by their maternal grandmother, whilst she returned to join her husband in the Far East. Kelly's Directories for the time show that the Ardizzone family lived in Ipswich at Corder Road between 1905–1910, and in Gainsborough Road from 1911 to 1912. Ardizzone was educated first at Ipswich School and then at Clayesmore School – where he was encouraged by his art teacher.[3]

Early career[edit]

The first book by Ardizzone listed by the US Library of Congress is The Mediterranean: An anthology (London: Cassell, 1935, OCLC 2891569), compiled by Paul Bloomfield, "decorated by Edward Ardizzone" with "each chapter preceded by illustrated half-title".[4]

In 1936 he inaugurated his best-known work, the Tim series, featuring the maritime adventures of its eponymous young hero, which he both wrote and illustrated. Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain was published by Oxford University Press in both London and New York that year.[5]

Normandy June 1944 – Naval Control Post on the Beaches (1944) (Art.IWM ART LD 4392)
On the Road to Tripoli – a Cup of Tea for the Burial Party (1943) (Art.IWM ART LD 3035)

World War II[edit]

In World War II Ardizzone worked as a full-time, official war artist assigned to the War Office by the War Artists' Advisory Committee.[6] He first served with the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium before being evacuated back to Britain. In January 1942 he recorded the arrival of American troops in Northern Ireland. Later that year he went to North Africa and joined the British First Army on its march to Tunisia and then joined the Eighth Army. After El Alamein he went to France during the Allied invasion and then on to Sicily. He witnessed the fall of both Reggio Calabria and Naples, and spent the winter of 1944 in Italy before travelling to Germany.[6] His early experiences between Arras and Boulogne are illustrated and described in his book Baggage to the Enemy (London 1941). An extensive collection of his war pictures, as well as his wartime diaries, can be seen at The Imperial War Museum.

Post-war career[edit]

The most famous Tim book is the inaugural Greenaway Medal-winner, Tim All Alone (Oxford, 1956).[1] The series is often thought to have ended[clarification needed] in 1972 with Tim's Last Voyage but that was, in fact, followed in 1977 by Ships Cook Ginger.

His Sarah and Simon and No Red Paint was issued in an edition by Doubleday in 1966.[7]

Beside writing and illustrating his own books, Ardizzone also illustrated books written by others, including the novels of Anthony Trollope. His 1939 characterisation of H. E. Bates's My Uncle Silas is inimitable. He illustrated the C. Day Lewis children's novel, The Otterbury Incident (1948), and one of his happiest collaborations was that with Eleanor Farjeon, especially The Little Bookroom (Oxford, 1955 collection). He also illustrated some novels by the American author Eleanor Estes, including Pinky Pye, The Witch Family, The Alley, Miranda the Great, and The Tunnel of Hugsy Goode (1958 to 1972). He illustrated an edition of J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, retold by Eleanor Graham, in 1962 and A Ring of Bells (1962), John Betjeman's abridged version for children of his autobiographical poem Summoned by Bells (1960).

For illustrating Titus in Trouble, written by James Reeves, Ardizzone was a commended runner-up for the 1959 Greenaway Medal.[8][a]

Front cover of Stig of the Dump (1971 paperback with original cover art)

Ardizzone is particularly noted for having not just illustrated the covers and contents of books but inking the title text and author's name in his own hand, giving the books a distinctive look on shelves. An example is Clive King's Stig of the Dump (1963).

The Nurse Matilda series of children's books (1964–1974) was written by his cousin Christianna Brand, who was seven years younger. Their shared grandmother had told the stories to both cousins and she had learned them from her father.

Early in the 1970s, Ardizzone illustrated a new edition of the 20-year-old Little books by Graham Greene: The Little Train, The Little Fire Engine, The Little Horse Bus, and The Little Steamroller. He also illustrated a re-telling of the Don Quixote story for children by James Reeves and his illustrations for the The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley are classics in their own right.

Ardizzone also illustrated several telegrams for the Post Office in the 1950s and 1960s, many of which are considered collector's items.


His style is naturalistic but subdued, featuring gentle lines and delicate watercolours, but with great attention to particular details. He was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1970, and appointed CBE in 1971. The British Library published an illustrated bibliography of his works in 2003. A blue plaque unveiled in 2007 commemorates Ardizzone at 130 Elgin Avenue in Maida Vale.[9]


Ardizzone recorded this visit to Bremen in his diary on 26 April 1945: 'To Bremen again with Brian de Grineau' (IWM LD 7580 [C]).
  • Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain
  • Tim and Lucy go to Sea
  • Tim to the Rescue
  • Tim and Charlotte
  • Tim in Danger
  • Tim All Alone
  • Tim's Friend Towser
  • Tim and Ginger
  • Tim to the Lighthouse
  • Tim's Last Voyage
  • Ship's Cook Ginger
  • Diana and her Rhinoceros
  • Johnny the Clockmaker
  • Sarah and Simon and No Red Paint
  • Nicholas and the Fast Moving Diesel
  • Paul, the Hero of the Fire
  • Lucy Brown and Mr. Grimes
  • Baggage to the Enemy (1941)
  • Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales (1961)
  • Diary of a War Artist (1974)
  • The Little Horse Bus (1974)
  • A Child's Christmas in Wales (1978)
  • Indian Diary (1984)


Ardizzone died of a heart attack in 1979 at his home in Rodmersham Green.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Today there are usually eight books on the Greenaway shortlist. 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 Ardizzone and Gerald Rose when the distinction was inaugurated for 1959.


  1. ^ a b (Greenaway Winner 1956). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  2. ^ "70 Years Celebration: Anniversary Top Tens". The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards. CILIP. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  3. ^ Edward Ardizzone, The Young Ardizzone: an Autobiographical Fragment (London, 1970).
  4. ^ "The Mediterranean; an anthology". Library of Congress Catalog record (LCC). Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Little Tim and the brave sea captain". LCC record. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b Brain Foss (2007). War paint: Art, War, State and Identity in Britain, 1939–1945. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-10890-3. 
  7. ^ "Sarah and Simon and No Red Paint". Amazon.com.
  8. ^ "Kate Greenaway Medal". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  9. ^ "Ardizzone, Edward (1900–1979)". English Heritage. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Brian Alderson, 'Edward Ardizzone: a preliminary hand-list of his illustrated books, 1929–1970', in The Private Library; 2nd series, 5:1 (1972 Spring), pp. 2–64
  • Brian Alderson, Edward Ardizzone: A Bibliographic Commentary (2003. Private Libraries Association) ISBN 978-1-58456-103-3)
  • Gabriel White, Edward Ardizzone Artist and Illustrator (1979)
  • Malcolm Yorke, To War with Paper and Brush: Captain Edward Ardizzone, official War Artist (2007. Fleece Press, Upper Denby Huddersfield)
  • Edward Ardizzone, 'Brian Robb', in Signature; new series, 11 (1950), pp. 37–45
  • Edward Ardizzone, 'On the illustrating of books', in The PLA Quarterly; 1st series, 1/3 (1957 July), pp. 25–30
  • Edward Ardizzone, 'The Born Illustrator', in Motif; 1 (1958 November), pp. 37–44 (reprinted in Folio (1962 January–March), pp. 1–16)
  • Richard Knott, 'The Sketchbook War', The History Press, 2013.

External links[edit]