Randolph Caldecott was born on March 22, 1846, in the walled town of Chester, Cheshire, England. He was the son of an accountant who discouraged Caldecott's artowrk. Still, as a boy he persisted in sketching nature, carving and sculpting wooden animals, and painting. He would become best known for the Caldecott Medal, awarded anually to the best-illustrated American picture book.

At age fifteen, he went to work in a bank in Whitchurch. He lived on a farm outside town. He fished and hunted, and went to markets and cattle fairs, always carrying a sketchbook. After six years at Whitchurch, he was transferred to a bank in Manchester. He took night classses at the Manchester School of Art. That year, his first drawings were published in Will o' the Wisp, a "humorous weekly." His job performance reportedly never suffered, though stories were told of finding sketches of horses and dogs on the backs of receipts and envelopes.

In 1872, Randolph moved to London to pursue a career in art. He continued to sell sketches, now to the London Graphic and London Society magazines, slightly higher up on the totem pole.

Henry Blacburn, an editor of London Society, soon befriended Randolph. Randolph went with him to the Harz Mountains in Germany at the age of 26. Selections from his sketchbook served as illustrations for Blackburn's book The Harz Mountains in 1872. Mr. Blackburn took other sketches to the US, and Randolph's market soon enlarged to include American magazines - Harper's Monthly and the New York Daily Graphic.

Up till now, Randolph had been working mostly in pen and ink. He now began experimenting with other media, such as engraving. He was fortunate to find two trustworthy, skilled engravers, J. D. Cooper and Edmund Evans. With their help he illustrated an edition of Washington Irving's Old Christmas, which established him as a well-known illustrator.

Around 1877, Randolph began the work that would be longest remembered. Edmund Evans wouldn't leave Randolph alone until he agreed to produce a series of kids' books. These are considered to be Randolph's most important works, and those which changed the course of children's illustration. Edmund was fed up with the crude, boring pictures in most kids' books, and he and Randolph decided to fix it, using elaborate wood-block illustrations in six colors. Their partnership produced seventeen books.

Randolph had always been in somewhat shaky health, so, late in 1885, he and his wife sailed for America, hoping the change of climate would do him good. They chose the wrong season. His health deteriorated rapidly, and he died on February 13, 1886 of organic heart disease in St. Augustine, Florida. He was thirty-nine.

Fifty-two years after Caldecott's death, Frederic G. Melcher (dunno) established the Caldecott Medal. It was first awarded in 1938, going to the "most distinguished picture book by an American artist published during the preceding year," The first winner was Dorothy P. Lathrop's Animals of the Bible. Randolph's own books have all gone out of print, except for one.


Ride a Cock Horse

thanks to:

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.