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