Edward Ardizzone

Edward Ardizzone

Edward Ardizzone, a writer and illustrator chiefly known for his work on children’s books, had a long and varied career that also included working for the British government producing war posters, and for the Post Office making telegrams, many of which have become much sought-after collector’s items. Read more

Ardizzone, universally known as Ted, was born in 1900 in Haiphong, in the Tonkin Province of French Indo-China. His Algerian father was of Italian descent, and his English mother had been born in India. His mother brought he and his sisters Betty and Tetta to England, where the three were largely raised by their grandparents in Ipswich. Ardizzone spent time as a boy exploring Ipswich docks, and the sailors and characters that he remembered from this time later appeared in his Little Timbooks.

Ardizzone was sent to Claysmore school in Dorset and, although he didn't relish his studies, he was encouraged in his artistic pursuits, and continued to take evening classes in art while at Reading University. On leaving University he gained a clerk’s position at his father’s firm, the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company (now Cable and Wireless PLC); in his own words, during this time he ‘doodled a lot on his blotter’. He continued to attend evening classes at Westminster School of Art. This was his only formal art training. In 1927 Ardizzone left his office job and committed to becoming a full time artist, also setting off on the first of his lifetime of travels. He was married in 1929 to Catherine Anderson and together they had three children, Christianna, Philip (later to be the model for Little Tim) and Nicholas.

It is no exaggeration to say that Ardizzone’s work left an indelible mark on the British psyche, such was his genius for illustrating much-loved children’s books including Stig of the Dumpby Clive King, as well as work by John Betjeman, Graham Greene, and C. Day Lewis.

June/July/August 2014

Five letters and a previously unseen water colour by Edward Ardizzone went under the hammer at Bloomsbury's recent book and manuscript auction. The letters, which provided a facinating insight into Ardizzone's experiences as a war artist in Italy were sold for £3,720. 

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