Happy (late) 90th, John Lawrence! (British illustrator: "His Dark Mater
From Lenona@21:1/5 to All on Fri Sep 15 21:39:09 2023
His birthday was on the 15th.
The last address I have for him (from 1983) is London.
I first saw his work in the original 1961 edition of Alice P. Miller's "The Little Store on the Corner" - it was mostly done in blue and yellow, I think. (Do NOT confuse this edition with the better-known 1973 edition illustrated by Lisl Weil - in the
original, not only are the pictures quite different, but so are some of the names - and the child who saves the day with the ice-cream cones in the original is a boy, not a girl! I can understand why they made the change later, though - if an adult can
be so clueless as to need help from an ordinary child, why SHOULDN'T it be a girl?)
Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a complete list of his books. Some he did for other authors (not listed at the bottom) are, in order of copyright date: Colonel Jack (1967) by Daniel Defoe, The Diary of a Nobody, Dragons Come Home!, The Courage of
Sarah Noble, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, The Magician's Heart by E. Nesbit, Robinson Crusoe, The Blue Fairy book, Watership Down, & A Christmas Card by Paul Theroux.
Spitstickers, lozenge gravers, scorpers, bullstickers - they sound like things you'd find in an old-fashioned sweetshop, but these are the wood-engraving tools that chink and glisten on the desk of John Lawrence, illustrator and master engraver. There's
a burnished leather "sandbag", too, which looks like an oversized cornish pasty and provides a smooth, curved surface upon which to rest the block, and an ancient cast-iron printing press...
...His latest project is to illustrate Lyra's Oxford , a follow-up to Philip Pullman's phenomenally successful trilogy His Dark Materials . At the end of book three, the "subtle knife" which could cut windows into parallel worlds is broken, and the young
lovers Will and Lyra must part and face the future in their respective worlds: Will in his Oxford, Lyra in hers. Set two years on from The Amber Spyglass , the new book began as a simple idea, with a map of Lyra's Oxford, as Lyra moves around the city "
learning how to read the world". "But the story was bigger than I thought," says Pullman. "I realised it needed illustrations." The time less quality of Lawrence's work made him the obvious choice.
Today, though, with all the advances in modern reproductive technology and an ever-increasing range of materials, why would an illustrator choose the time-consuming business of wood engraving when he could presumably simulate the effect by other means?
Silly question. "Nothing," says Lawrence emphatically, "can match the effect of the essentially organic process of wood engraving. It's all about mark-making; the marks get their character from the material and the tools, and, when you are working on
wood, you can feel the textures - there are infinitesimal differences between the marks you make.".....
The Giant of Grabbist (1968),
Pope Leo's Elephant (1969),
(adaptor) The King of the Peacocks, 1970
Rabbit and Pork Rhyming Talk (1975),
Tongue Twisters (1976),
A Pair of Sinners, 1980
George His Elephant and Castle (1983),
Good Babies Bad Babies (1987),
This Little Chick (2002)
Tiny's Big Adventure (by Martin Waddell6448, qv, 2004), Lyra's Oxford (by Philip Pullman36887, qv, 2003),
Secret Seahorse (by Chris Butterworth, 2006),
Once Upon a Time in the North (by Philip Pullman, 2008),
Treasure Island (by Robert Louis Stevenson, 2009),
The Arthur Trilogy (by Kevin Crossley-Holland9786, qv, 2010);