Kate Greenaway

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Kate Greenaway
Kate Greenaway00.jpg
Born Catherine Greenaway
(1846-03-17)17 March 1846
Hoxton, London, England
Died 6 November 1901(1901-11-06) (aged 55)
Frognal, London, England
Nationality English
Education Heatherley School of Fine Art
Known for Creation of picture books

Catherine "Kate" Greenaway (17 March 1846 – 6 November 1901) was an English children's book illustrator[1] and writer. Her drawings gave rise to a fashion in young children's clothing in the 1880s and 1890s.

Life and career[edit]

Title page of Under the Window (1879)

Greenaway spent much of her childhood at Rolleston, Nottinghamshire.[2] She studied at what is now the Royal College of Art in London, in the section for women. (The college was then headed by Richard Burchett.) Her first book, Under the Window (1879), a collection of simple, perfectly idyllic verses about children, was a bestseller.

Greenaway's paintings were reproduced by chromoxylography, by which the colours were printed from hand-engraved wood blocks by the firm of Edmund Evans. Through the 1880s and 1890s, her only rivals in popularity in children's book illustration were Walter Crane and Randolph Caldecott.

As well as illustrating books Greenaway produced a number of bookplates.[3]

"Kate Greenaway" children, all of them little girls and boys too young to be put in trousers, were dressed in her own versions of late eighteenth century and Regency fashions: smock-frocks and skeleton suits for boys, high-waisted pinafores and dresses with mobcaps and straw bonnets for girls. The influence of children's clothes in portraits by British painter John Hoppner (1758–1810) may have provided her some inspiration. Liberty of London adapted Kate Greenaway's drawings as designs for actual children's clothes. A full generation of mothers in the liberal-minded "artistic" British circles who called themselves "The Souls" and embraced the Arts and Crafts movement dressed their daughters in Kate Greenaway pantaloons and bonnets in the 1880s and 1890s. The style was often used by painter Maude Goodman in her depictions of children.

The house in Frognal built for Kate Greenaway by Richard Norman Shaw

Greenaway was elected to membership of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1889. She lived in an Arts and Crafts style house she commissioned from Richard Norman Shaw in Frognal, London, although she spent summers in Rolleston, near Southwell.

Greenaway died of breast cancer in 1901, at the age of 55. She is buried in Hampstead Cemetery, London. The Kate Greenaway Medal, established in her honour in 1955, is awarded annually by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the UK to an illustrator of children's books.

Books illustrated[edit]



  1. ^ "Greenaway, Kate". Who's who biographies, 1901. p. 496. 
  2. ^ The Nottinghamshire Village Book (Newbury: Countryside Books, 1989), p. 136.
  3. ^ Clark, Keith. The Bookplate Designs of Kate Greenaway, in The Private Library Autumn 1975, published by the Private Libraries Association


  • Ina Taylor, The Art of Kate Greenaway: A Nostalgic Portrait of Childhood London, 1991 ISBN 0-88289-867-1

External links[edit]