Among this roundup of birthdays, the illustrated icon himself, Mickey Mouse, was born in November! Created by Walt Disney, he made his world debut in Steamboat Willie on November 18, 1928.
We have a multitude of creative birthdays to celebrate in this blog post, so let's waste no time and get right into it! Join us in wishing a happy birthday to...
Margaret Bloy Graham (November 2, 1920 – January 22, 2015) delighted generations of young readers alongside her husband, Gene Zion—they met at Conde Nast, where she worked in the art department. Together, they created the iconic children's book Harry the Dirty Dog (1956), where her illustrations breathed life into the beloved character of Harry. Margaret's artistic contributions extended beyond this classic, earning her two prestigious Caldecott Honors, one for All Falling Down (1951) and the second for The Storm Book (1952). Her ability to capture the essence of childhood and a child's perspective was evident in her work, making her illustrations visually engaging and emotionally resonant.
The first of many Harry books, Harry the Dirty Dog, quickly became a classic. It's earned a spot on the National Education Association's "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children" list!
Gustaf Tenggren (November 3, 1896 – April 9, 1970) was a Swedish-American artist whose enduring artistic legacy has profoundly impacted illustration and animation. In the 1920s, he immigrated to the United States from Sweden, rapidly establishing his reputation in the art world. His work spanned from detailed, naturalistic landscapes to whimsical and imaginative illustrations. Tenggren's legacy is particularly evident in his collaborations with Disney, where he served as a chief illustrator on the groundbreaking film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), contributing to its iconic visual style. When he ventured into the world of children's books, he illustrated some of the most popular Little Golden Books of all time, including the timeless classic The Poky Little Puppy (1942). While his name may not be widely recognized, many modern people have enjoyed his work in beloved classic movies and childhood books!
An exciting scene illustrated by Tenggren from The Steadfast Tin Soldier, a story by Hans Christian Andersen, which appeared in Dickey Byrd (1928), a book published by Milton Bradley (yes, the game maker!).
Lothar Meggendorfer (November 6, 1847 – July 7, 1925) was a German illustrator, early cartoonist, and pioneer in the art of movable books. His enduring artistic legacy lies in his remarkable contributions to the world of mechanical picture books! Born in Munich, he started his career as a lithographer but soon gained recognition for his exceptional talent in creating intricate and imaginative movable illustrations. He crafted an array of innovative, hand-operated mechanisms within books. His ingenuity in paper engineering and illustration was unparalleled during his time, and his works, such as International Circus (1887). His legacy stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of beautifully crafted, interactive books that delight and educate readers of all ages.
True pieces of art, Meggendorfer's panoramic pop-up scenes, like this one from International Circus, illustrate why his books are now showcased in museums!
Théophile Steinlen (November 10, 1859 – December 13, 1923) was a Swiss-born French Art Nouveau painter and printmaker active during La Belle Époque. Steinlen's journey to prominence began when he moved to Paris in his early twenties. There, he became a prominent figure in the Montmartre art scene, frequenting the famous Le Chat Noir cabaret. His work was not only marked by its artistic excellence but also its social and political commentary. Steinlen's illustrations, posters, and prints often depicted the lives of the working class and captured the essence of Parisian street life. His most renowned work includes his iconic posters for Le Chat Noir and his poignant anti-war illustrations from World War I. Steinlen's legacy endures through his ability to blend artistry with activism, bringing attention to the struggles of the marginalized, and his artwork continues to be celebrated for its rich aesthetic and historical significance.
In 1905, Steinlen created this advertising poster for a local veterinary hotel and clinic, Clinique Cheron. An animal lover himself, he was known to feed stray cats in his neighborhood!
John R. Neill (November 12, 1877 – September 19, 1943) was an American illustrator celebrated for his significant contributions to children's literature. Born in Philadelphia, Neill dropped out of art school after just one semester to start working. His path led him to become one of the most iconic illustrators of the early 20th century! He is best known for his captivating illustrations in the Oz series by L. Frank Baum, a collaboration that spanned numerous books. Neill illustrated for newspapers, pulp magazines, and over 40 Oz books, showcasing his versatile talent. His artistic legacy is defined by imaginative and whimsical illustrations that continue to enchant readers of all ages. His vibrant and detailed artwork has become synonymous with the magical land of Oz, leaving an enduring mark on the realm of children's literature.
This grand frog by John R. Neil tips his hat to everyone on one of our most popular birthday cards of all time!
Robert Louis Stevenson (November 13, 1850 – December 3, 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, renowned for timeless works like Treasure Island (1883), A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886). Born in Edinburgh, he hailed from a family of lighthouse designers, yet his passion for writing diverged from their expectations. his wanderlust led him to extensive travel, providing rich material for his literary creations. Despite initially disappointing his parents, he achieved celebrity status during his lifetime, engaging with literary giants like Henry James and Rudyard Kipling. Stevenson's adept blending of adventure, mystery, and moral complexity has made him a literary giant, inspiring numerous illustrated adaptations of his words.
This enchanting scene, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith, accompanies the poem The Flowers in a 1905 edition of Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. She is just one of the many artists employed to breathe life into his poems via illustration!
William Steig (November 14, 1907 – October 3, 2003), once hailed as the "King of Cartoons," was an American cartoonist, illustrator, and author known for his remarkable impact on literature and art. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he initially made his mark as a cartoonist for The New Yorker, showcasing his wit and humor. Later in life, at the age of 61, he embarked on a new chapter as a children's book author, introducing his unique artistic style and storytelling to a younger audience. His diverse contributions earned him the Caldecott Medal and left an indelible mark on children's literature. Steig's notable work includes Shrek! (1990) which inspired the iconic animated film series. Beyond his creative achievements, he received the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his lifetime dedication to children's books.
While in his eighties, Steig introduced the world to the green and ornery ogre, Shrek, altering pop culture forever!
Warwick Goble (November 22, 1862 – January 22, 1943) was a British artist and illustrator who received his education and training at the City of London School and the Westminster School of Art. Specializing in fairy tales and influenced by stories from Japan, India, and the Middle East, his artistic journey was marked by a deep appreciation for folklore and mythology. Among his first published illustrations was for H.G. Wells' iconic work, The War of the Worlds, in 1897. Notably, Goble extended his artistic prowess to early science-fiction stories, showcasing his versatility and innovation. His illustrations, characterized by intricate details and a keen sense of narrative, established him as a prominent figure in the Golden Age of Illustration.
The accompanying caption to this image intriguingly states, "The Sea-lady allures Maurice into the Sea," and indeed, she does! It is paired with an Irish tale titled The Wonderful Tune in a 1910 book.
Erté (November 23, 1892 – April 21, 1990), born Romain de Tirtoff in St. Petersburg, Russia, stands as an iconic figure in the realms of art and design. Collaborating with the renowned Paul "Le Magnifique" Poiret on theatrical productions marked the inception of his illustrious career. Breaking into independent work, he left an indelible mark on the world of fashion with stunning costume designs that adorned celebrated actresses of his era, including Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish, and Norma Shearer. His artistic brilliance extended to stage design, gracing iconic venues like New York's Radio City Music Hall and the Paris Opera. Erté's multidimensional artistic portfolio spanned fashion, jewelry, graphic arts, as well as costume and set design for film, theatre, and opera. His influence in interior decor added another layer to his vast contributions. Recognized as "The Father of the Art Deco Movement," Erté's legacy transcends time, captivating enthusiasts with his timeless designs that epitomize the elegance and sophistication of the Art Deco era.
Bonjour to this fun fact: Erté is a pseudonym for Romain de Tirtoff, and it represents the French pronunciation of the artist’s initials, R.T.
P.D. Eastman (November 25, 1909 – January 7, 1986), born Philip Dey Eastman, began his career at Walt Disney's animation studio, later working at Warner Brothers' cartoon unit. During World War II, he crossed paths with Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel), leading to a prolific collaboration. Eastman later earned recognition, including an Academy Award, for his work in illustration and animation. Yet, it was under the Dr. Seuss brand at Random House that he made his most lasting work, creating timeless classics such as Go, Dog. Go! (1961) and Are You My Mother? (1960). His books remain beloved and enduring, enchanting generations of young readers.
I'm not sure about you, readers, but for me, memories of reading Are You My Mother? with my own mother make me feel as cozy as this illustration!
Helen Dryden (November 26, 1882 – October 1972) was a pioneering American artist and designer, best known for her significant contributions to the Art Deco movement. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Dryden began her career as an illustrator and quickly gained recognition for her distinctive style and innovative approach. Her talent led her to become a prominent figure in the fashion and design industry during the early 20th century. Dryden's work graced the covers of renowned magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair, where her Art Deco-inspired illustrations captured the spirit of the Roaring Twenties. In addition to her successful career in commercial art, she ventured into industrial design, creating iconic patterns for textiles, wallpapers, and even car interiors for Studebaker! Helen Dryden's legacy endures as a trailblazer in the intersection of art, design, and the vibrant cultural landscape of the Jazz Age.
A November cover for a November birthday! Dryden is credited with bringing more artistry to fashion illustrations, where the mood of the piece and how one might feel wearing the clothes is just as important as a faithful rendering of the outfit.
Charles M. Schulz (November 26, 1922 – February 12, 2000) was an American cartoonist, best known for creating the beloved comic strip Peanuts. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Schulz developed an early interest in art and cartooning. He launched Peanuts in 1950, introducing iconic characters like Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, and Linus. The strip became one of the most popular and enduring in the world, reaching millions of readers daily. Schulz's keen observations on the human condition, humor, and wit resonated with audiences of all ages. Over the decades, Peanuts expanded into various media, including animated television specials, movies, and merchandise. Schulz's impact on popular culture is immeasurable as he essentially defined the modern comic strip, as well as mentoring numerous younger cartoonists!
Peanuts made its newspaper debut in the dailies in 1950, but on January 6, 1952, it made it to the big leagues: the Sunday papers! This was the header for its very first Sunday run.
William Blake (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) was a visionary English poet, painter, and printmaker, often considered one of the most significant figures of the Romantic Age. Born into a humble background, Blake demonstrated artistic talent from an early age. He was largely self-taught, attending sporadic art classes and absorbing influences from the Gothic and Renaissance traditions. Blake's illuminated printing technique allowed him to integrate text and imagery in his poems, creating unique and highly symbolic works. His poetry, including Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789), explored themes of spirituality, imagination, and the complexities of human existence. Beyond his literary contributions, Blake was an accomplished visual artist, producing intricate and fantastical watercolors, engravings, and paintings. Despite facing financial struggles and relative obscurity during his lifetime, Blake's work gained recognition in the 20th century for its profound influence on literature and art.
Many of Blake's illustrations made to accompany Dante’s Divine Comedy now reside in fine art museums. This is his The Inscription over the Gate (1824-7), and its home is London's Tate Gallery, along with 96 other pieces of his artwork.
In a month filled with creative birthdays, we've decided to focus here on those in the world of illustration. However, it's worth giving a nod to some literary giants whose stories have inspired beautiful artistic adaptations. Happy November birthday also to Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi Longstocking in 1945, Frances Hodgson Burnett, the author of A Little Princess (1905) and The Secret Garden (1911), C.S. Lewis of The Chronicles of Narnia series, beginning with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 1950, Madeleine L'Engle, the mind behind A Wrinkle in Time (1962), and Mark Twain, renowned for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), among many other things. Their literary works have sparked a wealth of artistic interpretations that could fill an entire blog post!
Thank you for joining us in celebrating the artistic legacies of these talented artists born in November. And if you're marking a November birthday, make sure to explore Laughing Elephant's vast collection of over 200 birthday cards, specially designed to add a touch of magic to you celebrations!