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Garth Williams, American Illustrator : A Life (Hardcover) (Elizabeth K. Wallace)
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Open the pages of a children’s classic: Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little,Little House on the Prairie, the Little Golden Books, and you will see page after page of artistry which brought those stories to life. These drawings, rendered in such exquisite detail were by Garth Williams. And behind the illustrations that sparked the imaginations of generations was a man who led an extraordinary life.
Born in 1912, Williams’ life took him from his British upbringing and education to Italy and Germany, to London during the Blitz and thence to New York and the vibrant art scene of the 1940s. Williams married four times, lived in New York, Aspen, and Guanajunto, Mexico. In his time he met people who shaped and exemplified the 20th century; Winston Churchill, Mark Rothko, Jacob Epstein, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and countless more.
This is a biography of Garth Williams as an artist and illustrator, of how his journey led him from sculpture awards at the Royal College of Art to capturing the epitome of frontier life in the West, or etching humanity into beloved animal characters. The biography also explores the historical context that affected Williams’ life and art, whether in the Old World or fostering cultural expression in the New. Despite the frenetic pace of post-War suburbanization, Williams’s illustrations evoked a desire to maintain a connection with the animal world, as well as carrying echoes of a vanishing agrarian life. By tapping into these themes, Williams captured the powerful postwar yearning to a simpler American past.
Complete with 40 of Williams’ best illustrations from his eclectic portfolio, this is the first full biography of Garth Williams.