Robert Lawson was born on October 4, 1892, in New York City. He grew up and west to school in Montclair, New Jersey. Like lots of kids, he loved to read and look at pictures, but he had no particular drive to become an author or illustrator. Only because his mom nagged him about it, he went to the Parsons School of Art in New York, where he studied illustration for three years under Howard Giles. While there he received scholarships in line drawing and illustration.

His career took off in 1914 when his first published illustration appeared in Harper's Weekly. It was a full-page decoration for a poem on the invasion of Belgium. He went on to do many sorts of illustration: magazine, newspaper, and commercial work, scenic designing, and greeting cards. This was interrupted by a year and a half in the Army. He came home and began to make books.

In 1930, Lawson illustrated his first book, The Wee Men of Ballywooden, by Arthur Mason. After this came more books by lots of authors, until he gave up other work and books were all he was doing. By 1938 he had illustrated about 40 books, including The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf, and Mr. Popper's Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater.

After Mr. Popper's Penguins proved successful, Little, Brown and Company asked Lawson to suggest a subject for a book he'd enjoy illustrating. He wrote an outline of Ben and Me, which the publishers thought was an excellent idea, but they couldn't think of anyone else to write such a nutty story, other than Lawson himself. Wham, you're an author. A good one, apparently. In 1939, Ben and Me received the Newbery.

Robert Lawson died at his home, "Rabbit Hill," in Westport, Connecticut, in 1957.


"I have never, as far as I can remember, given one moment's thought as to whether any drawing that I was doing was for adults or children. I have never changed one conception or line or detail to suit the supposed age of the reader. And I have never, in what writing I have done, changed one word or phrase of text because I felt it might be over the heads of children. I have never, I hope, insulted the intelligence of any child. And with God and my publishers willing, I promise them that I never will."


Ben and Me: A New and Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin As Written by His Good Mouse Amos

The Great Wheel

Mr. Revere and I: Being an Account of Certain Episodes in the Career of Paul Revere, Esq. As Recently Revealed by His Horse, Scheherazade

Rabbit Hill   (1945 Newbery Award)

They Were Strong and Good

The Tough Winter

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