Kate Greenaway’s illustrations for children’s books have remained so popular the world over that her name has become synonymous with an English childhood. Her England is a world of childhood, where children dance in flowery meadows and characters from nursery rhymes find a life which is forever beautiful and innocent. The quaintly dressed children with their adult expressions were an overnight success in the nineteenth century and enjoy great popularity today.
Although Kate painted and exhibited extensively, it was through her book illustrations that she became a household name in England. Her first book, The Birthday Book for Children, sold an amazing 70,000 copies and marked the beginning of her successful, though sometimes unhappy, career.
The Art of Kate Greenaway is the first book to bring together in color such a large selection of Kate Greenaway’s work. The book charts her work from her earliest teenage paintings through her student work and her exhibited oil paintings and watercolors to the greeting cards and children’s books which made her a celebrity. The pictures are accompanied by a brief biography and an examination of her achievements in the area of book illustration.
Born in 1846, the daughter of a commercial artist and wood engraver, Kate was encouraged to draw from an early age. Her early watercolors, exhibited at the Dudley Gallery in 1868, caught the eye of an editor and led initially to a commission for magazine illustrations and later to designs for Christmas cards and valentines. Her success would become so widespread that it would even earn her introductions at Buckingham Palace.