This is the first in an occasional series of blogs about their lives by some of the people whose work we here at the Den very much like and admire. We're delighted to welcome super-talented Laurence Anholt, whose work has been published all over the globe. He's written us a fascinating piece about his life story, which is one of great creativity and commitment, very influenced by fine art through the years. He's also sharing with us his surprising and intriguing new direction.
|Sylvette David by Picasso portrait. Copyright: collection of Sylvette David|
I’m currently putting the final touches to the tenth story in the series, about that great feminist icon, Frida Kahlo and another real child. My working title is ‘Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World’.
|Two watercolour illustrations of Frida Kahlo. Copyright: Laurence Anholt.|
In 1987 our beautiful twins, Tom and Maddy were born. Here they are face to face in their pram -
And it was at this time that we discovered our Willy Wonka ticket… in the countryside near Lyme Regis, we stumbled upon a rambling semi-derelict house with acres of tangled jungle, various crumbling outbuildings, a walled swimming pool filled with something resembling vegetable soup, and breathtaking views across the valley to the sea. The place was like a dream or a magical fairy tale (although the mortgage felt real enough!) Old Woodhouse had been long abandoned and it took years to put it straight - I lost count of the evenings I spent on the roof with a hammer, but for sixteen happy years this was our family home.
Our books were translated into 30 or more languages and they won several big awards. Here I am with Arthur Robins receiving the Smarties Gold Award with Konnie Huq from Blue Peter and two authors called Julia Donaldson and J.K. Rowling… whatever happened to them!
I took part in book events in Indonesia, Singapore and all around the world. Once Cathy and I travelled to South Korea to launch a full-scale stage musical of my Van Gogh book.
|The Korean stage musical of Camille and the sunflowers. Copyright: Laurence Anholt|
In those days, editors had the authority to accept a manuscript on the spot, but with the advent of Amazon and e-books, the threat to independent bookshops and the appalling cuts to public libraries, there has been an earthquake in children’s publishing. Now it feels as if publishing houses have erected forcefields around themselves armed by accountants! I know that many editors, authors and illustrators feel very sad about the commercialisation of this lovely industry and it must be horribly difficult to be starting out as an author or illustrator in 2015.
|Chimp and Zee, Bookshop by the Sea. Copyright: Laurence Anholt|
|Claire and me|
|Maddy and me. There's a link to Maddy's website below.|
|My son Tom. There's a link to Tom's website below.|
|At the bottom of the blog there's a link to an article about our renovation of Sunflower House.|
|The cover of The Hypnotist|
|Catherine and Laurence Anholt in studio. Copyright: Alun Callender/Psychologies Magazine|