Hilary Knight

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This article is about the writer-artist. For the ice hockey player, see Hilary Knight (ice hockey).
Hilary Knight
Knight's 1996 portrait of Kay Thompson for Vanity Fair.
Born (1926-11-01) November 1, 1926 (age 89)
Hempstead, Long Island, New York, U.S.
Education Art Students League
Known for Drawing, Painting
Notable work Eloise (1955)

Hilary Knight (born November 1, 1926) is an American writer and artist. He is the illustrator of more than 50 books and the author of nine books. He is best known as the illustrator of Kay Thompson's Eloise (1955) and others in the Eloise series.

Knight has illustrated for a wide variety of clients, creating artwork for magazines, children's fashion advertisements, greeting cards, record albums and posters for Broadway musicals, including Gypsy, Irene, Half A Sixpence, Hallelujah Baby! and No, No Nanette.


The son of artist-writers Clayton Knight and Katharine Sturges Dodge, Hilary Knight was born on Long Island in Hempstead. His father illustrated aviation books, and his mother was a fashion and book illustrator. Living in Roslyn, New York as a child, Hilary was age six when he moved to Manhattan with his family. Knight attended the City and Country School (class of 1940) for elementary and middle school and Friends Seminary for high school.

Knight recalled:

After study with George Grosz and Reginald Marsh at the Art Students League, Knight labored as a ship painter while serving in the navy from 1944 to 1946. Returning to New York, he studied architectural drafting (at Delahanty Institute), interior design, and theater design, working for one summer as an assistant designer at a theater in Ogunquit, Maine. He painted murals in private homes and entered the field of magazine illustration, starting with Mademoiselle in 1952, followed by House & Garden, Gourmet, McCalls, and Woman's Home Companion. His work as a humorous illustrator was strongly influenced by the British cartoonist Ronald Searle.


In 1955, he collaborated with Kay Thompson to create the whimsical black, white and, pink look of Eloise. Knight says that the image of Eloise was based on a 1930s painting by his mother Katherine Sturges Dodge.[1] The live CBS television adaptation on Playhouse 90 (1956) with Evelyn Rudie as Eloise received such negative reviews that Kay Thompson vowed never to allow another film or TV adaptation.

Three book sequels followed: Eloise in Paris (1957), Eloise at Christmastime (1958) and Eloise in Moscow (1959). Thompson and Knight teamed to create another sequel, Eloise Takes a Bawth, working with children's book editor Ursula Nordstrom. That title was announced in the Harper Books for Boys and Girls fall 1964 catalog, but in the mid-1960s, Thompson removed the three Eloise sequels from print and did not allow Eloise Takes a Bawth to be published. It was an action that deprived her collaborator of income for decades (a situation that changed with Thompson's death in 1998). In Salon, Amy Benfer speculated on Thompson's motives in "Will the real Eloise please stand up?" (June 1, 1999):

Eloise Takes a Bawth was finally published in 2002. Knight recalled:

Poster for Eloise, The Animated Series

Knight also illustrated most of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. Other publications with Knight illustrations include Good Housekeeping and the children's magazine Cricket. In addition to creating children's picture books—among them, in collaboration with poet Margaret Fishback, A Child's Book of Natural History (USA: Platt & Monk, 1969), a revision and extension of A Child's Primer of Natural History by Oliver Herford—Knight has illustrated for other genres, such as Peg Bracken's The I Hate to Cook Book. The roll call of artists Knight admires includes Ludwig Bemelmans, Joseph Hirsch, Leo Lionni, Robert Vickrey, and Garth Williams.


Over the decades, Knight maintained an apartment in midtown Manhattan, which also served as his studio and library. Here, he adds to his collection of books, sheet music, programs, and soundtrack and cast recordings. He is represented by two galleries—the Giraffics Gallery (East Hampton, New York) and Every Picture Tells a Story (Santa Monica, California).

In Other Media[edit]

The 2015 HBO documentary, It's Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise, chronicles Knight's work on Eloise, personal life, and tumultuous relationship with Kay Thompson.[2]


  • The Circus Is Coming, 1947
  • Angels and Berries and Candy Canes, 1963
  • Christmas Stocking Story, 1963
  • Firefly in a Fir Tree, 1963
  • Christmas in a Nutshell Library, 1963
  • The Night Before Christmas, 1963
  • Where's Wallace?, 1964
  • Hilary Knight's Cinderella, 1978
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas, 1981
  • The Owl and the Pussy-Cat (by Edward Lear), 1983
  • Side by Side: Poems To Read Together (verse compilation), 1988
  • Happy Birthday (verse compilation), 1993
  • Eloise Takes a Bawth, 2002
  • Eloise: The Absolutely Essential, 2005


  1. ^ Barnes & Noble: Meet the Writers series, retrieved 8 April 2015
  2. ^ Documentaries, HBO. "It's Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise". HBO.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 

External links[edit]