E. H. Shepard
Best-known for his illustrations of that “silly old bear” Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred-Acre Wood, E. H. Shepard was one of the most recognisable and prolific artists of the Twentieth-Century, his careful anthropomorphic sketches bringing classics such as The Wind in the Willows to life.
The Wind in the Willows
Best-known for his illustrations of that “silly old bear” Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred-Acre Wood, Ernest Shepard was one of the most recognisable and prolific artists of the Twentieth Century, showing his work sixteen times at the Royal Academy during his lifetime.
Born in 1879 in London (his home for most of his life) Shepard was awarded scholarships to the Royal Academy and British Institute. By the time World War I broke out he was already a distinguished illustrator, having provided images for illustrated editions of Tom Brown’s Schoolboys and Aesop’s Fables amongst others.
From the Front Line to the Hundred Acre Wood
Like other notable illustrators including John Tenniel, Shepard was employed by Punch and contributed cartoons throughout the war as well as numerous sketches drawn on the trenches whilst serving as an officer in the Royal Artillery.
Shepard first illustrated for Milne in 1924, for When We Were Very Young and went on to illustrate all of Milne’s Winnie the Pooh Stories, basing Pooh himself on his own son’s toy bear ‘Growler’. It was his inimitable, scratchy, anthropomorphic style which made Shepard so well suited to illustrate animal characters, a skill which he employed to great effect not only for Milne but also in illustrating Kenneth Williams Wind in the Willows in 1931.
Messing About on the River
In fact the first edition of Wind in the Willows had been released in 1908 and Shepard was the fourth illustrator to tackle the project but his are now commonly recognised as the quintessential illustrations. Shepard recalled meeting Graham, who died just before he could see Shepard’s illustrations brought to publication, the elderly man simply telling him 'I love these little people, be kind to them'.
Shepard went on to paint, exhibit and illustrate throughout his life and even wrote two children’s books himself in his eighties before his death in 1976, fifty years after Winnie the Pooh had come into being.