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Cover of Notes from the Sofa

An insight into one of Britain's greatest creative minds

Raymond Briggs is an award-winning author, his bestselling books include The Snowman, Father Christmas and Ethel & Ernest. For the last few years Raymond has also been writing a regular column for The Oldie, 'Notes from the sofa'.

Children's books have many restrictions - they are short in length and often require a happy ending - but Raymond's 'Notes from the sofa' column has allowed him a new kind of freedom: to write about and draw whatever he wanted. Witty, wide-ranging, and sharply observed, together they trace the course of one man’s life from the awkwardness and embarrassment of growing-up, to the vicissitudes and miseries of growing old.

The Oldie is a humorous monthly magazine launched in 1992 by Richard Ingrams, who for 22 years was the magazine's editor following 23 years in the same post at Private Eye.

"In different ways Briggs has revolutionised the art of telling stories with pictures."Twentieth Century Children's Writers

"It's a measure of Briggs' skill as a writer that he manages to balance (a) sense of loss with positive elements such as love, excitement and happiness." Kids Out

"Raymond Briggs touches some very human level that everyone can relate to." Yorkshire Post

Raymond Briggs was born in London in 1934, and studied at Wimbledon School of Art and the Slade School of Art, London. His first work was in advertising, but he soon began to win acclaim as a children's book illustrator as well as teaching illustration at Brighton College of Art.

He came to public attention when he illustrated a book of nursery rhymes, The Mother Goose Treasury, in 1966, winning the Kate Greenaway medal. Since then he has become one of the most innovative and popular author-illustrators. His books include the hugely successful Father Christmas (1973), Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975), Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), The Snowman (1978) When the Wind Blows (1982) The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (1984). These books have been translated into many languages and adapted into films, plays and TV cartoons. A further graphic novel, Ethel & Ernest (1998)- a biography of his parents' lives - tells the story of how his father, a milkman, met his mother, a lady's maid, and how they continued to live in the same house for forty-one years. Ethel & Ernest is now in production to become a cinema film.

Bring back creative socio-paths

Having recently written of my discovery that I am a stereotype, it was a relief to find that the label does have its compensations.

Also, for the last 17 years I have had on my wall of my workroom an article from the Times by the great Doctor Stuttaford. It has stood me in good stead for almost two decades. Thanks a million, Doc!

Why Gifted Artists Pay a High Price for their Vocation, is the title.

‘Creative people often find it difficult to comply with the demands of a prosaic world [such as Ingrams and The Oldie, R.B.]. The artistically gifted are frequently so dedicated to their vocation, whether it is music, visual arts or writing, that they can appear SELF-ABSORBED, IMPULSIVE, IMPATIENT AND INTOLERANT [Yes! My CAPS. R.B.] Even in my medical lifetime there was a sub-group whom psychiatrists labelled creative socio-paths – a term now abandoned.’

What a shame! I like it. I am definitely a creative socio-path. I am impatient and intolerant of stupid PC people wanting to tidy up the language. What’s twrong with being self-absorbed? It’s better than being absorbed in someone else, so ‘in love’ that you can’t think straight or get on with work. Also, it’s being impulsive and impatient that gets things done, otherwise you might spend hours gawping at your mobile phone or garbage on the telly. In the War, it was intolerance that got rid of Hitler, Buchenwald and Belsen.

Being labelled a psychiatric type with a proper title is reassuring. It helps you to understand who you are and where you stand. It gives you the kind of reassurance that religions must give their believers. ‘You are a sinner!’ Er… well yes, I suppose so. ‘You will burn in hell!; Um… oh dear. I’d better try and be good then.

Millions of people find this comforting. At least it tells them what they are and where they are going. So why should we creative socio-paths be denied the comfort of our label?

We won’t go to hell, will we?

 


 

Pooh Sticks and hysterics


Read more...

Raymond Briggs on being an illustrator

Monday, 22 June 2015

 

We interviewed legendary illustrator Raymond Briggs on what it was like working in this industry at the start of his career. 

The book Notes From the Sofa is currently in production. We're aiming to have subscribers copies ready and sent out by November 2015. Many thanks for your patience while we make this into a beautiful book. 

If you haven't yet pledged and want to get your name in…

Caitlin Harvey commented on this blog post.

Raymond Briggs on going to Art School

Monday, 20 April 2015

We interviewed the legendary illustrator Raymond Briggs about what it was like going to art school at 16. What he says about the perceived difference between commercial and fine art is fascinating. Always one to be forward thinking Raymond recognises that, even historically, great artists often ran huge art operations and were just as commercial as everything else. Art, no matter how sublime, says…

Raymond Briggs on The Snowman

Thursday, 19 February 2015

We interviewed the legendary illustrator Raymond Briggs about his biggest hit, The Snowman. What he says about it just being a simple, 'corny' idea where a child builds a snowman that comes to life is rather beautiful. 

Watch this space for more exclusive content from one of the UK's best loved creative minds. 

If you haven't yet pledged for Notes From the Sofa you can read more and support…

Seonaid Mackenzie-Murray
Seonaid Mackenzie-Murray asked:

If I was to pledge a little more could my 10 year old who is a budding artist, and whose name I would put in the back, come and meet you, and learn more about your early career, we live in Wandworth, I would happily buy you lunch, I love young people learning from the passion of adults

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Seonaid,

Thanks for getting in touch. We carefully came up with the higher levels with Raymond, depending on what he was happy with. You are welcome to pledge more than the amount for a particular level, and there is an option to do this during the checkout page, but I am afraid that we are unable to promise a meeting with Raymond since this is not one of the levels that he has agreed to.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Unbound Community Coordinator

Walter Dickinson
Walter Dickinson asked:

I am very interested in the edition with a signed giclee. Will you be posting the cover image?
Also I am in the U.S. Will the publisher ship overseas?

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Walter,

Thanks for getting in touch. Yes, we will be posting the cover image in the project shed once this has been finalised. We do ship overseas, but there is an increased postage cost. I hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Unbound

Graham Beanlands
Graham Beanlands asked:

Hi, when is this being delivered? Thanks

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Graham,

Thanks for getting in touch. We're hard at work making the books and are aiming to send out subscribers copies in autumn 2015. If there is anything else I can help you with please get in touch via unbound.co.uk/support.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community Coordinator

Stan C Waterman
Stan C Waterman asked:

Hi, Re Mr Graham Beanland,s Question. " When is this being delivered ".? Your Answer, Aiming to send out subscribers copies in autumn 2015. Dear Dear, Surly Its THE autumn of 2015, And as far as I can remember, When I was a lad autumn was allways spelt with a capital A! Any How When Is Autumn In The UK?. Loooking forward to book anyhow, Cheers , and many thank,s

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Stan,

Thanks for getting in touch. The Autumn in the UK is September - November. We are still aiming to have copies ready for then (we don't have an exact date at the moment) and if there are any delays with this we will let supporters know. If I can help you with anything else please get in touch via unbound.co.uk/support.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community Coordinator

Nikki Vane
Nikki Vane asked:

Hello
Are all the 'hardback' copies clothbound? Thanks
Nikki

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Nikki,

Yes, all of the special editions which are available exclusively from Unbound will be clothbound. Copies that will be available in bookshops will not be. If there's anything else we can help with please get in touch via unbound.co.uk/support.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community Coordinator

David Rayner
David Rayner asked:

Hi, do you have an update on a release date please? Is it still planned for before Christmas? Many thanks in advance.
David

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi David,

Thanks for getting in touch. Yes, we're still on track to get subscribers copies sent out before Christmas 2015. If there's anything else we can help with please contact us via unbound.co.uk/support.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community Coordinator

Vincent Aurelius
Vincent Aurelius asked:

Hello there. just wondering if there's any difference, in terms of print type/quality between the 'signed artwork' and the three 'print's.

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Vincent,

The prints will all be the same type and quality, they will just feature different artwork by Raymond Briggs.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Unbound

Evelyn Laing
Evelyn Laing asked:

For Unbound.

I realise this sounds a little dim, but can I ask how I access the e-book edition please? (Book/print received - absolutely delighted!)

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Evelyn,

Thanks for getting in touch. We've emailed you how to download the ebook, but if you log in to your account you can also download this from here: https://unbound.co.uk/books/notes-from-the-sofa/ebooks.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community & Events Manager

Annie Morgan
Annie Morgan asked:

Hi,

On Monday 14th I bought the Notes From The Sofa hardback, however I haven't been given any indication of when this will be dispatched. Please can you advise as I wanted this before Christmas?

Thanks,

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Annie,

Thanks for getting in touch. Your order has now been dispatched and you should have received a dispatch email from us with your UK Mail tracking number.

Best wishes,

Unbound Support

Nic Piper
Nic Piper asked:

Hey there. I pledged on a higher level but haven't received the book yet? Just wondered when it might get here? Thanks.

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Nic,

Sorry to hear your book hasn't arrived. Please can you get in touch via support@unbound.co.uk and we can look into this for you?

Best wishes,

Unbound support

Will Moffett
Will Moffett asked:

Why are they in UK prices not USA prices?

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Will,

Thanks for getting in touch. We're a UK based company so the prices are in £, but we're working on internationalising the site for the future.

Best wishes, Unbound Support

AUSTIN REEVE
AUSTIN REEVE asked:

I guess that I have missed out on this - was there a signed edition that is now no more? I have followed Raymond's work since buying Father Christmas back in the 70's and have never managed to get a signed copy of anything by him. Why am I always too late - maybe I'm a sociopath too ( I am 70!)

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Austin,

Thanks for getting in touch. I've had a look and we do have stock of the signed edition so I've made this available again for you. Just click on the buy for £50 level on the project page.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community Manager

AUSTIN REEVE
AUSTIN REEVE asked:

Thanks for the quick reply. What do you get for the £50? Is it a signed copy of the hardback version or is there more to it than that? One of the replies to the questions above mentions 'different artwork'. Is it a limited edition?

Unbound
Unbound replied:

Hi Austin,

The £50 is for a signed copy of the book as well as the ebook. There was signed artwork levels, but these are all sold out now I'm afraid.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community Manager

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