Tuesday, August 3, 2010

About the great artist who illustrated AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh- Ernest Howard Shepard

Ernest Howard Shepard dreamed of being an artist from early on and always carried a booklet for his drawings with him until his death. He was originally a prolific British artist and contributor to the Punch Magazine in the early 1900. He later on became a very famous book illustrator. E.H Shepard became well known and respected especially for his human-like animals in illustrations for Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Alan Alexander Milne was an  English author who later on became famous for his enchanting books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and also for various children's poems. AA Milne approached Shepard to illustrate his book of poems titled "When We Were Very Young" in 1924. Milne was delighted with creativity of Shepard's illustrations and the book then became an instant success for both artists.

                   The original Winnie the Pooh drawing by E.H.Shepard

E.H. Shepard also illustrated Milne's 'Winnie-The-Pooh, Now We Are Six" and "The House At Pooh Corner". Shepard was said to have fallen in love with all the characters of Milne's Winnie the Pooh books and was delighted about the illustrating task for Milne. However, both artists were said to never have been close.

"Do you think you could very kindly lean against me, 'cos I keep pulling so hard that I fall over backwards"
                                                 © Estate of E.H. Shepard and Egmont UK Ltd.

Winnie-the-Pooh was published in October of 1926.  After Milne realized his illustrator's grand contribution to the book's success, he then generously arranged for Shepard to receive a share of his book royalties. Milne also inscribed a copy of Winnie-the-Pooh with the following very touching personal verse:

When I am gone,

Let Shepard decorate my tomb,

And put (if there is room)

Two pictures on the stone:

Piglet from page a hundred and eleven,

And Pooh and Piglet walking (157)…

And Peter, thinking that they are my own,

Will welcome me to Heaven.

Ernest Shepard died in 1976-on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Winnie the Pooh.

Most of his Winnie-The-Pooh illustrations are treasured by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Read more on E.H. Shepard on the Pooh Corner's website


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