Sir Quentin Blake is one of Britain's best-loved and most successful illustrators and children's authors. After reading English at Downing College, Cambridge, he studied for a postgraduate teaching qualification at the University of London and took life classes at Chelsea Art School. As well as making his living as an illustrator, Sir Quentin also taught for over 20 years at The Royal College of Art as Head of the Illustration Department.
Sir Quentin's first drawings were published in Punch when he was only sixteen. He continued to draw for Punch, The Spectator and other magazines while entering the magical world of children's books and went on to build collaborations with John Yeoman, Russell Hoban, Joan Aiken, Michael Rosen, and, most famously, Roald Dahl. Appointed the first ever Children's Laureate in 1999, in 2002 he also won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration. Sir Quentin was awarded an OBE for services to Children's Literature in 1988, followed by the even greater honour of CBE in 2005. He was knighted in the 2013 New Year Honours as recognition for his work for the House of Illustration, to which he has pledged his entire archive.
In 2007 Sir Quentin Blake received the Honorary degree of Doctor of the University.
"The Senate of Anglia Ruskin University is delighted to confer on Quentin Blake the award of Honorary Doctor of the University in recognition of his lifetime's contribution to illustration, writing and, most recently, curating exhibitions.
As one of Britain's best-loved and most successful illustrators and children's authors it is difficult to know where to start when speaking of his achievements. He has helped to capture in fine illustration the 'good' and 'memorable' moments in life, for which we are all eternally grateful.
Who, as either a parent or a child, cannot bring to mind the wonderful characters of his famous authors, or of his own fertile, subversive and sometimes outrageous imagination?
I am, perhaps, talking about the time where, in Roald Dahl's Matilda, Bruce Boggtrotter eats an entire chocolate cake (a moment I think we can all relate to) or the fateful day when the well-meaning but somewhat hapless Mrs Armitage sets off for an innocent country bike ride only to find that (posh, haughty and slightly dotty voice) what this bike really needs ... is taking to the nearest tip!!
Born in 1932 in Sidcup, Kent, Quentin Blake read English at Downing College, Cambridge, then studied for a postgraduate teaching qualification at the University of London, and took life classes at Chelsea Art School. During his time in Cambridge, he would walk across Parkers Piece to take life drawing classes at Anglia Ruskin's very own Cambridge School of Art which has since been at the forefront of developing Children's book illustration. This is a time, we are confident, that he remembers very fondly indeed!
Quentin Blake has always made his living as an illustrator, as well as teaching for over 20 years at The Royal College of Art, where he was Head of the Illustration Department from 1978 to 1986.
His first drawings were published in Punch when he was only sixteen, and he continued to draw for Punch, The Spectator and other magazines for many years, while entering the magical and possibly 'more lucrative' world of children's books with his first book as an illustrator, A Drink of Water and Other Stories in 1960. He then built collaborations with John Yeoman, Russell Hoban, Joan Aiken, Michael Rosen, and, most famously, Roald Dahl. He also created much-loved characters of his own including Mister Magnolia and Mrs Armitage. This led to him being appointed the first ever Children's Laureate in 1999, a post designed to raise the profile of children's books.
Since the 1990s, Quentin Blake has had an additional career as curator of many exhibitions, participating in shows for, among other places, the National Gallery, the British Library and the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris.
The British Council show, 'Magic Pencil', went on from the British Library to five European cities, and is still on tour. Recently he has started an illustration project for hospitals and his work can be seen in wards and public spaces of several London hospitals and mental health units. A new project very dear to his heart is the prospective Museum of Illustration, which might find a home in the new King's Cross redevelopment in London and which will get his archive of originals.
While fantastically successful in illustrating and writing children's books, Quentin Blake is also a distinguished illustrator of classic books for adults. Here we should maybe point to his French publications. He has provided illustrations for Don Quixote, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Cyrano de Bergerac's Voyages to the Sun and the Moon. He has also illustrated a number of books specifically for a French audience, of which the latest, Vivre Nos Vieux Jours!, is a book showing what old people can do - very encouragingly to all of us who are a little older, they seem to spend much of their time in trees. Quentin spends part of the year in France and, in 2004, was made by the French Government a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres for services to literature, an honour that is to be elevated to the higher accolade of Officier des Arts e des Lettres later this year.
His books have won numerous international prizes and awards, too many to list them all here. In 2002, he won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, the highest international recognition given to creators of children's books. To crown a magnificently colourful and creative career in illustration and writing, he was awarded an OBE for services to Children's Literature in 1988, which was followed by the even greater honour of CBE in 2005.
Rather than relax and enjoy the glory of his long and madly creative career, Quentin Blake is still working hard at his trusty lightbox to produce his splendidly imaginative style of illustrative genius. New books include - Rights of the Reader, On Angel Wings and The Life of Birds. (Details of which are all available on his perfectly crafted website www.quentinblake.com!!)
Quentin has rather understatedly said: 'Text, not pictures, lead the way.' We beg to dispute this fact, and for this reason, and the many others mentioned in this citation, would like to join the 11 other universities who have gone before us to honour you.
And so exercising the power conferred on me by Senate, may I therefore invite the Vice Chancellor to bestow the award of Honorary Doctor of the University upon Quentin Blake."