Children's illustrator Quentin Blake who sketched Roald Dahl books celebrates 80th birthday with a knighthood
00:26 GMT, 29 December 2012
Children's author and artist Quentin Blake is best known for illustrating Roald Dahl's books
Children's author and artist Quentin Blake, best known for illustrating Roald Dahl’s books, will receive a knighthood.
Mr Blake said the honour was an excellent present for his recent 80th birthday – but added that many of his fans already assume he is a Sir.
He said: ‘The funny thing is that my books are published a lot in France and Germany and I get a lot of letters from people there who think I have got it already, so I suppose this kind of regularises it.
‘I haven’t quite got used to it yet, but I’m very pleased about it. I’ve already had an OBE and a CBE so it does prepare you for these things.'
Blake has provided his distinctive pictures for works by figures such as Joan Aiken and Michael Rosen and many young viewers will recall the dozens of stories on BBC series Jackanory for which he provided the on-screen illustrations.
His new honour recognises his involvement in the House Of Illustration, a permanent museum and gallery for which he has pledged his entire archive, due to open in north London in 2014.
It also marks his work in brightening the lives of people in hospitals by creating specially-commissioned artworks.
'I think of it as quite a nice 80th birthday present. But I think it is even more valuable to me because it is for things that aren't finished – it relates to projects that are still ongoing.
'The work in hospitals makes the patients feel more welcome and it is reassuring to their relatives.'
Assumptions: Mr Blake said the honour was an excellent birthday present but that many of his fans already assume he is a Sir
Blake was honoured in 2005 as the first ever children's laureate in recognition of his contribution to literature, having illustrated more than 300 books.
The artist – from Sidcup in south east London – saw his first drawings published in the satirical magazine Punch when he was just 16, before he headed off to read English at Cambridge. He gained teaching qualifications after National Service, and studied at Chelsea School of Art.
Top work: One of Quentin Blake's illustrations from the BFG by Roald Dahl
Blake first drew the images for a children's book in 1960, A Drink Of Water, which had been written by a friend, and by 1968 he was writing the words too, beginning with his book Patrick.
In the 1970s he became a familiar face on TV, working on more than 150 episodes of Jackanory with his pictures, including those for Aiken's popular Arabel and Mortimer stories, about a young girl and her pet raven.
Blake also contributed his own live drawings, complete with his free-form narration as he was unable to read an autocue while focusing on his storyboard.
He was also the head of the illustration department at the Royal College of Art for many years, later becoming a visiting professor.
In 1980 he landed one of the UK's most precious awards for children's books, the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration, for his popular story Mr Magnolia.
Blake has also illustrated stamps for the Royal Mail and his work has featured in the best-selling children's books by comedy actor David Walliams, including Mr Stink.