Arise, Sir Quentin.
That’s right; the illustrator whose sprightly stick-men have accompanied the works of Roald Dahl and Michael Morpurgo received a knighthood from the Prince of Wales yesterday.
The honour, which he described as “quite a nice 80th birthday present”, was awarded to Sir Quentin for services to illustration, in recognition of his involvement in the House of Illustration, a museum which is to house his entire archive.
“I’m just trying to recover from it,” he told i. “I enjoyed it very much. It’s not the sort of thing you expect to happen to and it takes a bit of getting used to. The business was done this morning by Prince Charles and that was nice for me because I’ve done things for his foundation.”
Hasn’t he been around forever?
It’s certainly true that Sir Quentin’s spiky drawings have become part of the furniture the British childhood.
Since his first sketch was published by Punch magazine in 1948, he has illustrated more than 300 children’s books, including classics by Joan Aiken and Dr. Seuss.
More recently, he has leant his prowess to comedian David Walliams’ two novels, The Boy in the Dress and Mr Stink and last year he created four charity pieces that celebrated hospitals in the UK and France.
Reflecting on his position as one of the world’s best known illustrators, the 80-year-old bemoaned how few of his colleagues have been knighted.
“Because it’s so much a part of everyday life, there often isn’t a moment where illustration gets noticed,” he said.
“Not many people have been noticed for it, I feel a little bit that the award is on behalf of quite a few other people as well.”
After half a century doodling for children, Sir Quentin has begun to sketch for adults, releasing a series of pictures and a book aimed at older generations. But as a trained teacher, he has assured fans that the children’s literature will always be the focus of his work. His new work, The Three Owls, will be released this Christmas.
So it’s business as usual?
Not exactly. In fact, Sir Quentin immediately used his new status as a knight of the realm to encourage a shake-up of the honours system. “There isn’t enough recognition given to the arts,” he said.
“I worry about it a bit sometimes. People don’t realise that art is more than an entertainment or a relaxation. In fact, it can be the opposite of that. The arts are also about discipline, about order, and from the outside people don’t realise that sometimes.”