Raymond Briggs

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Raymond Briggs
Briggs in 1983
BornRaymond Redvers Briggs
(1934-01-18)18 January 1934
Wimbledon, England
Died9 August 2022(2022-08-09) (aged 88)
Brighton, England
  • Artist
  • writer
  • cartoonist
  • graphic novelist
  • illustrator
Notable works
Jean Briggs
(m. 1963; died 1973)

Raymond Redvers Briggs CBE (18 January 1934 – 9 August 2022)[1] was an English illustrator, cartoonist, graphic novelist and author. Achieving critical and popular success among adults and children, he is best known in Britain for his 1978 story The Snowman, a book without words whose cartoon adaptation is televised and whose musical adaptation is staged every Christmas.[2]

Briggs won the 1966 and 1973 Kate Greenaway Medals from the British Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject.[3][4] For the 50th anniversary of the Medal (1955–2005), a panel named Father Christmas (1973) one of the top-ten winning works, which composed the ballot for a public election of the nation's favourite.[5] For his contribution as a children's illustrator, Briggs was a runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1984.[6][7] He was a patron of the Association of Illustrators.[8]

Early life[edit]

Raymond Redvers Briggs was born on 18 January 1934 in Wimbledon, Surrey (now London), to Ernest Redvers Briggs (1900–1971), a milkman, and Ethel Bowyer (1895–1971), a former lady's maid-turned-housewife, who married in 1930.[9][10] During the Second World War, he was evacuated to Dorset before returning to London at the end of the war.[11]

Briggs attended Rutlish School, at that time a grammar school, pursued cartooning from an early age and, despite his father's attempts to discourage him from this unprofitable pursuit, attended the Wimbledon School of Art from 1949 to 1953 to study painting, and Central School of Art to study typography.[12]

From 1953 to 1955, he was a National Service conscript in the Royal Corps of Signals at Catterick, where he was made a draughtsman.[3] After this, he returned to study painting at Slade School of Fine Art, graduating in 1957.[1][13]


After briefly pursuing painting, he became a professional illustrator,[1] and soon began working in children's books. In 1958, he illustrated Peter and the Piskies: Cornish Folk and Fairy Tales, a fairy tale anthology by Ruth Manning-Sanders that was published by Oxford University Press. They would collaborate again for the Hamish Hamilton Book of Magical Beasts (Hamilton, 1966). In 1961, Briggs began teaching illustration part-time at Brighton School of Art, which he continued until 1986;[14][15] one of his students was Chris Riddell, who went on to win three Greenaway Medals.[16] Briggs was a commended runner-up for the 1964 Kate Greenaway Medal (Fee Fi Fo Fum, a collection of nursery rhymes)[17][a] and won the 1966 Medal for illustrating a Hamilton edition of Mother Goose.[1] According to a retrospective presentation by the librarians, The Mother Goose Treasury "is a collection of 408 traditional and well loved poems and nursery rhymes, illustrated with over 800 colour pictures by a young Raymond Briggs".[3]

The first three important works that Briggs both wrote and illustrated were in comics format rather than the separate text and illustrations typical of children's books; all three were published by Hamish Hamilton. Father Christmas (1973) and its sequel Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975); both feature a curmudgeonly Father Christmas who complains incessantly about the "blooming snow". For the former, he won his second Greenaway.[1] Much later they were jointly adapted as a film titled Father Christmas. The third early Hamilton "comics" was Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), featuring a day in the life of a working class bogeyman.[18]

The Snowman (Hamilton, 1978) was entirely wordless,[1] and illustrated with only pencil crayons.[19] The work was partly motivated by his previous book; Briggs wrote that "For two years I worked on Fungus, buried amongst muck, slime and words, so... I wanted to do something which was clean, pleasant, fresh and wordless and quick."[20] For that work Briggs was a Highly Commended runner-up for his third Greenaway Medal.[17][a] An American edition was produced by Random House in the same year, for which Briggs won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, picture book category.[21] In 1982, it was adapted by British TV channel Channel 4 as an animated cartoon, with a short narrated introduction by David Bowie.[22] It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1982, and has since been shown every year on British television (except 1984).[23] On Christmas Eve 2012 the 30th anniversary of the original was marked by the airing of the sequel The Snowman and the Snowdog.[24]

Briggs continued to work in a similar format, but with more adult content, in Gentleman Jim (1980), a sombre look at the working class trials of Jim and Hilda Bloggs, closely based on his parents. When the Wind Blows (1982) confronted the trusting, optimistic Bloggs couple with the horror of nuclear war, and was praised in the House of Commons for its timeliness and originality. The topic was inspired after Briggs watched a Panorama documentary on nuclear contingency planning,[15] and the dense format of the page was inspired by a Swiss publisher's miniature version of Father Christmas.[25] This book was turned into a two-handed radio play with Peter Sallis in the male lead role, and subsequently an animated film, featuring John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft.[26] The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (1984) was a denunciation of the Falklands War.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Briggs's wife Jean, who had schizophrenia, died from leukaemia in 1973, two years after his parents' death. They did not have any children.[28]

At the end of his life, Briggs lived in a small house in Westmeston, Sussex.[27][29] His long-term partner, Liz, died in October 2015 having had Parkinson's disease. Briggs continued to work on writing and illustrating books.[30]

Briggs stated that he used to be a staunch supporter of the Labour Party, although he lost faith in the party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.[31]

Briggs died of pneumonia at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton on 9 August 2022, aged 88.[1][13]

He is buried in East Chiltington.

Awards and honours[edit]

Briggs won the 1992 Kurt Maschler Award, or the "Emil", both for writing and for illustrating The Man, a short graphic novel featuring a boy and a homunculus. The award annually recognised one British children's book for integration of text and illustration.[32] His graphic novel Ethel & Ernest, which portrayed his parents' 41-year marriage, won Best Illustrated Book in the 1999 British Book Awards. In 2016, it was turned into a hand-drawn animated film.[33] In 2012, he was the first person to be inducted into the British Comic Awards Hall of Fame.[34]

In 2014, Briggs received the Phoenix Picture Book Award from the Children's Literature Association for The Bear (1994). The award committee stated:

With surprising page-turns, felicitous pauses, and pitch-perfect dialogue, Briggs renders the drama and humour of child–adult and child–bear relations, while questioning the nature of imagination and reality. As a picture book presented in graphic novel format, Briggs's work was ground-breaking when first published and remains cutting edge twenty years later in its creative unity of text and picture.[35]

The biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award conferred by the International Board on Books for Young People is the highest recognition available to a writer or illustrator of children's books. Briggs was one of two runners-up for the illustration award in 1984.[6][7]

He has also won several awards for particular works.[20][36]

The National Portrait Gallery, London, holds several photographic portraits of Briggs in its permanent collection.[41]

Briggs was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to literature.[42] A book about his life's work entitled Raymond Briggs: The Illustrators was written by Nicolette Jones and published in 2020.[43]

Selected works[edit]


See also[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Today there are usually eight books on the Greenaway Medal shortlist. According to CCSU, some runners-up were Commended (from 1959) or Highly Commended (from 1974). There were 99 distinctions of both kinds in 44 years including three for 1964, three 1978. There were 31 high commendations in 29 years including Briggs alone for 1978.
    • Only Chris Riddell has won three Greenaways. Among the fourteen illustrators with two Medals, Briggs is one of seven with one book named to the top ten (1955–2005) and also one of seven with at least one Highly Commended runner-up (1974–2002), led by Helen Oxenbury with two Medals and four HC.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lea, Richard (10 August 2022). "Snowman author Raymond Briggs dies aged 88". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  2. ^ Wroe, Nicholas (18 December 2004). "Bloomin' Christmas". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e (Greenaway Winner 1966). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b c (Greenaway Winner 1973). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  5. ^ "70 Years Celebration: Anniversary Top Tens" Archived 27 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine. The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards. CILIP. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002". The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Pages 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online (literature.at). Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Association of Illustrators". Archived from the original on 12 July 2016.
  9. ^ Debrett's People of Today, ed. Lucy Hume, Debrett's Ltd, 2017, p. 728
  10. ^ "Raymond Briggs: Big kid, 'old git' and still in the rudest of health". 9 August 2008.
  11. ^ "Raymond Briggs obituary: An illustrious career". BBC News. 10 August 2022. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  12. ^ Raymond Briggs Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2009. Archived 1 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ a b Bailey, Jason M. (10 August 2022). "Raymond Briggs, Who Drew a Wordless 'Snowman,' Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  14. ^ Briggs, Raymond – MSN Encarta. Archived 1 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ a b "read yourself RAW – Profile: Raymond Briggs". Archived from the original on 19 July 2009.
  16. ^ "Chris Riddell".
  17. ^ a b c "Kate Greenaway Medal". 2007?. Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  18. ^ "Fungus the Bogeyman Season 1". Radio Times. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  19. ^ "Guardian book club: Week two: Raymond Briggs on Father Christmas's terrible job ...". Raymond Briggs with John Mullan. The Guardian. 20 December 2008.
  20. ^ a b "Raymond Briggs". Puffin Books Authors. Puffin Books. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
    • Biography; Interview; Bibliography "Published by Puffin Books"
  21. ^ a b "Past Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Winners". The Horn Book. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  22. ^ 'Let's all remember David Bowie's forgotten intro for 'The Snowman', NME new musical express, 2016
  23. ^ Anjorin, Israel (10 August 2022). "Raymond Briggs, a Snowman author has passed away at age 88 – Death". SNBC13.com. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  24. ^ Lawson, Mark (14 December 2012). "The Snowman and the Snowdog: the pitfalls of remakes". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  25. ^ "Why I'd like to be a proper author: Strip cartoons are a botheration for Raymond Briggs". Raymond Briggs. The Guardian 1 November 2002. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
  26. ^ When the Wind Blows at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
  27. ^ a b "Raymond Briggs, Snowman author, dies aged 88". The Times. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  28. ^ Jordan, Justine (21 December 2019). "Raymond Briggs: 'Everything takes so bloody long when you're old'". The Guardian.
  29. ^ Walker, Emily (24 December 2010). "Snowman author says: "I hate Christmas" (From The Argus)". Theargus.co.uk. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  30. ^ "Big kid, 'old git' and still in the rudest of health". Rachel Cooke. The Observer. 10 August 2008. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
  31. ^ Aitkenhead, Decca (24 December 2016). "Raymond Briggs: 'There could be another world war. Terrifying, isn't it?'". TheGuardian.com.
  32. ^ a b "Kurt Maschler Awards". Book Awards. bizland.com. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  33. ^ a b Milligan, Mercedes (10 August 2022). "'The Snowman' Creator Raymond Briggs Dies Age 88". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  35. ^ a b ChLA Newsletter Archived 14 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Vol. 20, Issue 2 (Autumn 2013)]. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 2014-07-12.
  36. ^ a b "Raymond Briggs". British Council: Literature. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  37. ^ "Father Christmas | | raymond briggs | raymond briggs | V&A Explore The Collections". Victoria and Albert Museum: Explore the Collections. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  38. ^ "Author-illustrator Raymond Briggs dies age 88 :: NEWS". School Library Association. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  39. ^ a b c "Raymond Briggs's Christmas Little Library – Raymond Briggs; | Foyles Bookstore". www.foyles.co.uk. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  40. ^ "6000 children search for the next Harry Potter". PR Newswire. 6 December 2001.
  41. ^ "Raymond Briggs – Person – National Portrait Gallery". National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  42. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B8.
  43. ^ "The grumpy genius of Raymond Briggs". spectator.com. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  44. ^ "Peter and the Piskies. Cornish folk and fairy tales. Illustrated by Raymond Briggs". WorldCat. London. 1958. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  45. ^ "The Fair to Middling, etc". London. 1959. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  46. ^ "Ring-a-ring o' roses". WorldCat. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  47. ^ "Fee fi fo fum". WorldCat. Hamish Hamilton. 1964. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  48. ^ "The Christmas book". WorldCat. 1968. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  49. ^ "Shackleton's epic voyage". WorldCat. 1969. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  50. ^ "Jim and the beanstalk". WorldCat. Hamilton. 1970. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  51. ^ "Father Christmas goes on holiday". WorldCat. H. Hamilton. 1975. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  52. ^ "Fungus the Bogeyman". WorldCat. H. Hamilton. 1977. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  53. ^ "The Snowman". WorldCat. Hamish Hamilton. 1978. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  54. ^ "Gentleman Jim". WorldCat. 1980. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  55. ^ "When the wind blows". WorldCat. 1982. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  56. ^ "The tin-pot foreign general and the old iron woman". WorldCat. 1984. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  57. ^ "All in a day". WorldCat. 1986. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  58. ^ "Unlucky Wally". WorldCat. 1988. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  59. ^ "Unlucky Wally twenty years on". WorldCat. 1989. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  60. ^ "The man". WorldCat. 1992. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  61. ^ "The Bear". WorldCat. 1994. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  62. ^ "Ethel & Ernest". WorldCat. 1998. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  63. ^ "Ug: boy genius of the stone age and his search for soft trousers". WorldCat. 2001. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  64. ^ "The adventures of Bert". WorldCat. 2001. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  65. ^ "A bit more Bert". WorldCat. 2002. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  66. ^ "The puddleman". WorldCat. 2004. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  67. ^ "Notes From the Sofa". WorldCat. 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  68. ^ a b c d e f "Raymond Briggs". BFI. Archived from the original on 14 January 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  69. ^ "BBC Programme Index". BBC Genome. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  70. ^ "When the Wind Blows (1986)". BFI. Archived from the original on 15 September 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  71. ^ "BBC Programme Index". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 11 August 2022.
  72. ^ "Fungus the Bogeyman: Timothy Spall Leads All-Star Cast". Sky. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  73. ^ "Fungus The Bogeyman Series 1". Sky. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  74. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (10 August 2022). "Raymond Briggs, 'The Snowman' Creator, Dies at 88". Variety. Retrieved 11 August 2022.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barbara Baker, The Way We Write, (London: Continuum, 2006) ISBN 978-0-8264-9122-0
  • Nicolette Jones, Raymond Briggs: Blooming Books (Jonathan Cape, 2003). Extracts from the published works of Briggs with text commentary by Jones.
  • Richard Kilborn, The Multi-Media Melting Pot: Marketing "When the Wind Blows" (Comedia, 1986)
  • D. Martin, "Raymond Briggs", in Douglas Martin, The Telling Line: Essays on Fifteen Contemporary Book Illustrators (Julia MacRae Books, 1989), pp. 227–42
  • Elaine Moss, "Raymond Briggs: On British attitudes to the strip cartoon and children's book illustration", Signal (1979 January)
  • Anita Silvey (editor), The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators (Mariner Books, 2002) ISBN 978-0-618-19082-9

External links[edit]