My dear friend Jenny bought me some gorgeous books for Christmas - she finds the most wonderful books. I have so enjoyed them, particularly reading about the early life of the illustrator Ernest H Shepard. He is best known for his illustrations of Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows - my favourite illustrations as a child were the ones he drew for A A Milne's children's poetry books, When we were very young and Now we are six.
The books I've just enjoyed were written by Shepard himself and have illustrations on almost every page - Drawn from Memory and Drawn from Life. He was born in 1879 living through the last years of the Victorian age and well into the 20th century and was still illustrating books as late as 1971. His voice is so clear in the books prompting many visuals in the imagination and the illustrations are like a window into his mind to a past that is gone forever. These biographies tell the tale of his childhood, schooldays, his artistic training and of growing into a young man and falling in love with his first wife. The women in his life were clearly adored. There's a lovely description of his mother wearing a particular favourite dress of his accompanied by an illustration of the lady dressed to go out.
What I didn't know was that his daughter Mary Shepard was the illustrator of Mary Poppins, another favourite book of mine. Although both artists each had their own individual style I think they both had that talent for creating another world you can believe in with a quirkiness and attention to detail that I love.