Designer Desire: William Stobbs

Mosaic of William Stobbs children's book illustrations | H is for Home

Vintage children’s books illustrators are always one of our favourite subjects for Designer Desire. This week, we’ve chosen award-winning illustrator and author, William Stobbs (1914-2000).

Originally from South Shields in Tyne and Wear, he attended Durham School of Art before being taken on as a draughtsman at Rolls-Royce.

Stobbs taught at the London School of Printing and Kindred Trades (now the London College of Communication) prior to becoming head of Maidstone College of Art (now the Kent Institute of Art & Design) where he stayed for 21 years.

In 1955 he illustrated Ronald Welch’s Knight Crusader, which won the Carnegie Medal, “the UK’s oldest and most prestigious book award for children’s writing”. Four years later, he won a double Kate Greenaway Medal for his children’s books illustrations for Kashtanka by Anton Chekhov (see the illustration top-right) and A Bundle of Ballads by Ruth Manning-Sanders.

He returned to one of his life-long favourite subjects – cars – publishing picture books entitled, A Mini called ZAC, A Rolls called ARK and A Car called Beetle (see second illustration from bottom, right).

Most of the books he illustrated are now out-of-print. However, vintage copies can be picked up easily from Abe Books, Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

Today, sadly, William Stobbs is little-known and under-appreciated – we couldn’t even find an image online of what the designer looked like.

Image credits:

Lazy Daisy Jones | Little White Crow | Vintage Children’s Books my Kid Loves

World Dolls Series: Russia

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World Dolls Series - Russia book cover

So, here we are in Russia for our next stop in the World Dolls Series.

World Dolls Series - Russia front inside book cover

Illustrations are by D.White from the Birmingham School of Design. We’re not sure that they listened to the brief properly as our guides are all supposed to be dolls – the clue’s in the title – World DOLLS Series. We seem to have been given a couple of rustic farmers. Ironically, Russia probably has the most famous dolls in the world.

Boris and Anna, dolls from World Dolls Series - Russia

Anyway, we’re sure Boris & Anna are a lovely couple.

Boris and Anna, dolls from World Dolls Series - Russia

There you go – Boris is throwing us a wave – and is that a glimmer of a smile?

working in fields from the World Dolls Series - Russia

Perhaps there’s not much to smile about on the collective farm! Hard graft and huddling round the stove for the long winter apparently.

winter in Russia from the World Dolls Series - Russia

There’s no doubting that the other books in the series have been a tad lighter, more carefree & fun.

wrapping feet in cloth against frostbite from the World Dolls Series - Russia

Life certainly seems quite tough in 1960s Russia.

illustration of the Kremlin and Red Square from the World Dolls Series - Russia

Perhaps a few days sightseeing in Moscow will be fun. Look at the party atmosphere.

illustration of boys playing with a train set from the World Dolls Series - Russia

There are a games at ‘the club’ – and a bit of sunbathing at the Black Sea. Is that President Khrushchev sitting on the right monitoring the deck chair situation?

illustration of people relaxing in deckchairs on the beach at the Black Sea from the World Dolls Series - Russia

We’re off to Norway next – we’ve invested a lot of money in warm clothing which might come in useful. We’ve always wanted to tour around Scandinavia, so we can’t wait to get there.

World Dolls Series: Austria

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vintage 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

We’ve arrived in Austria on our World Dolls Series tour. We might just catch the first of the winter snow, so our timing is perfect.

vintage 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

Illustrations are by W. Lewis from The Birmingham school of Design – our resident artist in Germany & Holland too. We love all the artists in this collection of books, but if we were pushed, we’d probably choose W. Lewis as our favourite. The illustrations are both charming and very clever.

Dolls Lisa and Johann from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

Our guides are Lisa & Johann, looking resplendent in their national dress.

Alpine skiing scene from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

We’ve parked the coach up and are going to chill out (quite literally) in the Tyrol for a while.

Ski jumping  scene from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

Our hosts have no shortage of activities lined up – skiing, skating & sledging (it’s the 1960s so it’s pre-snowboarding!)

Cows in an alpine scene from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

When the snows melt we’re going to get stuck into a bit of farming.

Haymaking scene from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

Picnics and strolls through flower-filled meadows on our downtime.

Illustration of a salt mine from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

It’s going to be hard to drag ourselves away from this idyllic life, but for a bit of urban culture & retail therapy we might stop by Vienna.

Illustration of Vienna from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

Well, we do need to get that coach moving again before it seizes up. Next time it’s Russia.

World Dolls Series: Wales

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World Dolls Series: Wales book cover

Our World Dolls Series has reached Wales – The Land of Our Fathers.

World Dolls Series: Wales

Illustrations are by J. Sirr – and they highlight the tradition, scenery & industry of the region.

Bronwen from Wales

Our tour guide is Bronwen, resplendent in her national costume. She’s rightly proud of her national identity & her country’s long history…

Welsh Eisteddfod competition

…and the Welsh tradition of poetry, music, song & dance –  celebrated at the annual Eisteddfod.

Welsh spinner in national costume and spinning wheel in Welsh cottage

She’s also equally proud of her little cottage where she spins wool…

Men and women in Welsh national dress

This is a lovely image – people gathered for a bit of a do – wearing their brightly coloured wools & tall hats.

Ancient Welsh soldiers and castle

The mining industry was still going strong when these little books were written in the 1960s. Alas, we fear it would be impossible to hear miners singing on their way home from work today.

group of Welsh miners

Wales packs so much into a small area. Busy cities, market towns & heavy industry – majestic mountains & ancient wooded valleys – farms & fishing harbours – river estuaries, historical buildings, seaside resorts & stunning beaches.

Welsh Beach

As with all the books in this series, the author Irene Dark and the various illustrators chosen from the Birmingham School of Design do such a great job of capturing the charm & spirit of the country.

Welsh Hills

We’ll be crossing the sea to Ireland for our next trip. See you there!

Tuesday Huesday: Richard Erdoes

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illustration of Piazza San Marco by Richard Erdoes from his book 'Peddlers and Vendors Around the World' | H is for Home

image credit: Pop Up Venice

Today we were introduced to the fine illustrations of Richard Erdoes via the Fishink blog (thanks Craig!).

This illustration of Piazza San Marco is from his 1967 book, Peddlers and Vendors Around the World. If you’re into vintage children’s books this would be a good one to add to your collection. There are currently a few copies available to buy at Abe Books.

Another artist in the vein of our favourite, Miroslav Sasek!