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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
- 22nd June 2015 Raymond Briggs on being an illustrator
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…20th April 2015 Raymond Briggs on going to Art School
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…19th February 2015 Raymond Briggs on The Snowman
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.
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Jean de la Haye