|Born||Raymond Redvers Briggs
18 January 1934
Wimbledon, London, England
|Area(s)||Artist, writer, cartoonist, graphic novelist, illustrator|
|Awards||Kate Greenaway Medal
Horn Book Award
British Book Award
Raymond Redvers Briggs (born 18 January 1934) is an English illustrator, cartoonist, graphic novelist and author who has achieved critical and popular success among adults and children. He is best known in Britain for his story The Snowman, a book without words whose cartoon adaptation is televised and whose musical adaptation is staged every Christmas.
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. 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.
Raymond Briggs was born in Wimbledon, London, England, to parents Ernest and Ethel Briggs, a milkman and a former lady's maid-turned-housewife. He attended Rutlish School, (then 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.
From 1953 to 1955 he was a conscript in the Royal Corps of Signals at Catterick where he was made a draughtsman. After these two years of National Service, he returned to the study of painting at Slade School of Fine Art at University College, London, graduating in 1957.
After briefly pursuing painting, he became a professional illustrator, 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. He was a commended runner-up for the 1964 Kate Greenaway Medal (Fee Fi Fo Fum, a collection of nursery rhymes)[a] and won the 1966 Medal for illustrating a Hamilton edition of Mother Goose. 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."
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. Much later they were jointly adapted as a film entitled Father Christmas. The third early Hamilton "comics" was Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), featuring one day in the life of a working class Bogeyman with the mundane job of scaring human beings.
The Snowman (Hamilton, 1978) was entirely wordless, and illustrated with only pencil crayons. Briggs said that it was partly inspired by his previous book, "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." For that work Briggs was a Highly Commended runner-up for his third Greenaway Medal; no one has won three.[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. In 1982 it was adapted by British Channel 4 as an animated cartoon, which was nominated for the annual "Oscar" and has since been shown every year on British television. On Christmas Eve 2012 the 30th anniversary of the original was marked by the airing of the sequel The Snowman and the Snowdog.
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 British House of Commons for its timeliness and originality. The topic was inspired after Briggs watched a Panorama documentary on nuclear contingency planning, and the dense format of the page was inspired by a Swiss publisher's miniature version of Father Christmas. 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. The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (1984) was a scathing denunciation of the Falklands War. However, Briggs continued to produce humour for children, in works such as the Unlucky Wally series and The Bear.
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. In 1993 he was named Children's Author of the Year by the British Book Awards. His graphic novel Ethel and Ernest, which portrayed his parents' 41-year marriage, won Best Illustrated Book in the 1999 British Book Awards.
His wife Jean, who suffered from schizophrenia, died from leukaemia in 1973, only two years after his parents. They did not have any children.
As of 2010, Briggs lives in a small house in Westmeston, Sussex; because of the clutter he keeps a separate home from his partner, Liz, her children and grandchildren. He continues to work on writing and illustrating books.
- Peter and the Pixies: Cornish Folk and Fairy Tales (Oxford, 1958), retold by Ruth Manning-Sanders
- Ring-a-ring o' Roses (Hamish Hamilton, 1962), a collection of nursery rhymes —his first book to be published in the U.S.
- Fee Fi Fo Fum (1964) —a picture book of nursery rhymes
- The Mother Goose Treasury (Hamilton, 1966), from Mother Goose —winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal
- Shackleton's Epic Voyage (1969), by Michael Brown
- Jim and the Beanstalk (1971), by Briggs
- Father Christmas (1973), by Briggs —winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal
- Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975), by Briggs (ISBN 0-698-30584-1; LoC: 75-2541)
- Fungus the Bogeyman (Hamilton, 1977), by Briggs
- The Snowman (1978), no text
- Gentleman Jim (1980), by Briggs
- When the Wind Blows (1982), by Briggs —sequel to Gentleman Jim
- The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (Hamilton, 1984), by Briggs
- All in a Day (Philomel Books, 1986), written by Mitsumasa Anno, illustrated by Anno and others
- Unlucky Wally (1987)
- Unlucky Wally 20 Years On (1989)
- The Man (1992), by Briggs
- The Bear (1994), by Briggs
- Ethel and Ernest: a true story (Jonathan Cape, 1998) —about his parents
- Ug: boy genius of the Stone Age (Jonathan Cape, 2001), by Briggs
- The Adventures of Bert, by Allan Ahlberg (2001, US ISBN 0-374-30092-5)
- A Bit More Bert, by Allan Ahlberg (2002, US ISBN 0-374-32489-1)
- The Puddleman (2004, ISBN 0-09-945642-7)
- Notes from the Sofa (Unbound_(publisher) 2015, ISBN 978-1-78352-130-2)
- (1982) Sony Video Software: 50QS 4011(Betamax)/50ZS 4011(VHS)
- (2006) DVD NR, UPC 043396164369, Director Diane Jackson, approx. 29 minutes
- When the Wind Blows (play) (1983) Little Theatre, Bristol and Whitehall Theatre, London.
- When the Wind Blows (1986)
- Father Christmas (1991)
- 1998 DVD NTSC fullscreen ISBN 0-7678-2670-1 UPC 4339603227 combines:
- The Snowman (1993) 29 min; and
- Father Christmas (1997) 25 min (including material from Father Christmas Goes on Holiday)
- The Bear (1998)
- Ivor the Invisible (2001)
- Fungus the Bogeyman (2004)
- Ethel and Ernest (2008) (still in production)
- Gentleman Jim BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play, 4 May 2008
- Father Christmas Stage adaptation by Pins and Needles Productions at the Lyric Hammersmith, 2012
- Fungus the Bogeyman (2015) A 3-part television adaptation, featuring Timothy Spall and Victoria Wood shown on Sky1 on 27, 28 & 29 December 2015.
Awards and honours
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.
- 1966 Kate Greenaway Medal, for The Mother Goose Treasury
- 1973 Kate Greenaway Medal, for Father Christmas
- 1977 Francis Williams Award for Illustration (Victoria and Albert Museum), for Father Christmas
- 1979 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award (U.S.), for The Snowman
- 1979 Silver Pen Award (Netherlands)
- 1982 Children's Rights Workshop Other Award
- 1982 Francis Williams Award for Illustration, for The Snowman
- 1992 Kurt Maschler Award, for The Man
- 1992 Children's Author of the Year, British Book Awards
- 1998 Illustrated Book of the Year, British Book Awards, for Ethel and Ernest
Ug was silver runner-up for the 2001 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize.
- 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.
• No one 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.
- Wroe, Nicholas (18 December 2004). "Bloomin' Christmas". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- (Greenaway Winner 1966). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- (Greenaway Winner 1973). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
- "70 Years Celebration: Anniversary Top Tens". The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards. CILIP. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 28 July 2013.
- "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.
- Raymond Briggs Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2009. Archived 1 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Briggs, Raymond – MSN Encarta. Archived 1 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- read yourself RAW – Profile: Raymond Briggs Archived 19 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- "Kate Greenaway Medal". 2007?. Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 25 June 2012.
- "Guardian book club: Week two: Raymond Briggs on Father Christmas's terrible job ...". Raymond Briggs with John Mullan. The Guardian. 20 December 2008.
- "Raymond Briggs". Puffin Books Authors. Puffin Books. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
• Biography; Interview; Bibliography "Published by Puffin Books"
- "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.
- When the Wind Blows at the Internet Movie Database. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
- "Kurt Maschler Awards". Book Awards. bizland.com. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
- Emily Walker (24 December 2010). "Snowman author says: "I hate Christmas" (From The Argus)". Theargus.co.uk. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- "Big kid, 'old git' and still in the rudest of health". Rachel Cooke. The Observer. 10 August 2008. Confirmed 4 December 2012.
- Ring-a-ring o' roses. Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- "Fungus the Bogeyman: Timothy Spall Leads All-Star Cast". Sky. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
- "Fungus The Bogeyman Series 1". Sky. Retrieved 2016-01-02.
- "Raymond Briggs". British Council: Literature. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
- Elaine Moss, "Raymond Briggs: On British attitudes to the strip cartoon and Children's book illustration", Signal (1979 January)
- 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
- Nicolette Jones, Raymond Briggs: Blooming Books (Jonathan Cape, 2003) —extracts from the published works of Briggs with text commentary by Jones
- Barbara Baker, The Way We Write, (London: Continuum, 2006) ISBN 978-0-8264-9122-0
- Anita Silvey (editor), The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators (Mariner Books, 2002) ISBN 978-0-618-19082-9
- Daily Mail Weekender magazine "My Haven" 6th February 2016 report by Etan Smallman.
- Raymond Briggs at the Internet Movie Database
- Raymond Briggs at British Council: Literature
- Raymond Briggs at the Internet Book List
- "Panel Borders: The Work of Raymond Briggs" radio interview broadcast 8 January 2009 (audio)
- Search Raymond Briggs at Kirkus Reviews
- Articles on Raymond Briggs at Comics Bulletin http://comicsbulletin.com/tag/raymond-briggs/