The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

February 16, 2017

February 16, 2016

Jackie Morris, illustrator, was born in 1961. Her reputation was enhanced when she was longlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal, an announcement made February 16, 2016. The local headlines soon read:

She Got a D in English and an E in A’ level Art, now Jackie Morris writer and illustrator has been shortlisted for a Kate Greenaway Medal.

Jackie Morris discusses her life on her blog:

I was born in Birmingham and lived there until at the age of four my parents moved away to Evesham.
Here I grew up and remember little of those times. ....I remember walking in the park by the river, bank voles and weeping willows and bright flashes of kingfishers. I loved the ferry at Hampton where the ferryman pulled you across the river to a land of fields and blackberries, where my dad would walk with me and show me how to find birds' nests and tales of when he was a boy.

After school I went to college, first in Hereford, then to Exeter where they told me that I would never make it as an illustrator and from there I escaped to Bath Academy, set in a beautiful stately home in Corsham. Here I developed a love for peacocks. These bright birds with their ridiculous tails would fly into our gardens.

After college I moved briefly to London, just off Balham High Road. I thought you had to live in London because that is where most of the publishing houses are. (It didn't take me long to realize that I was not born to live in a city) It was here that my real education began as I took my portfolio around magazine publishers and book publishers. I worked in magazines and books for seven years, for The New Statesman, New Socialist, Independent, Guardian and Radio Times. I designed cards and calendars for Greenpeace and Amnesty International and fell into children's books by accident.

I moved to Wales just before starting my first children's book, Jo's Storm, by Caroline Pitcher and have lived in the same place ever since, a small cottage held together by spider's webs. Cats come and go. At the moment I share the house with Tom and Hannah, my son and daughter, Floss and Bella, two odd dogs, and Maurice, Pixie, Elmo, Martha and Max, cats of various colour but mostly ginger.

Things I like: Blue, cats, the smell of honeysuckle, rose petals, birds, words, fires, good books, crayons and paint, the smell of a new book, polar bears, moonlight and moonshadows, ... long gold grass of late summer, the sound of the wind in the trees, the brush of a butterfly's wings, the fragility of bone, wasp's nests, washing on a line blowing in the wind on a sunny winter's day, the patterns the sea draws on a beach each day and night.

Music I like: Bjork, Stephen Fearing, Sufjan Stevens, Paulo Nutini, Nina Simone, Seth Lakeman, Cara Dillon,...

Books I like: The Book Thief, anything by Robin Hobb, Peter Pan, Where the Wild Things Are, The Arrivals by Shaun Tan, Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Ropemaker, The Stolen Child and many more.

Films I like: Mirrormask, Stardust, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish, Pirates of the Caribbean, In the Mood for Love, Tears of the Weeping Camel, House of Flying Daggers, Hero and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, The Science of Sleep, Cave of the Yellow Dog, Atonement, Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid.

Wishes and Desires: I would like a grandfather clock that chimes the hour and has a big key to wind it up. It would sit in my studio and when I have painted for six hours I would get up to make tea and wind back time, because what I need more than anything is more hours in the day. I would like infinite patience and a quiet mind. I would like a tidy house, clean and smelling of roses or frankincense, instead of a house that looks as if it inhabited by trolls and smelling of wet dogs. I would like my garden to be consumed by the hillside, to grow heather and foxgloves and all things wild, where snakes and spiders live with butterflies and birds.

Things I like to do: Walk, fly kites, watch birds fly, lie back on a high rock and watch clouds form and disperse, lie back in a wood and watch leaves fall, read, watch a good film under a blanket of cats, ....

Artists I like: Angela Barrett, Brian Wildsmith, Maurice Sendak, James Mayhew, Marc Chagall, Sophie Rider, Chris Riddell ( who can draw a straight line and make it more beautiful than any other), Medieval illuminated manuscripts and the anonymity of the artists who made them,.....

Poems I love: The Stolen Child by Yeats, Amulet by Ted Hughes, Lone Dog, Until I Saw the Sea, He Wishes for the Clothes of Heaven by Yeats, the madness of nursery rhymes.

Books I like: Tarka the Otter, anything by Robin Hobb, 100 years of Solitude, House of the Spirits,Where the Wild Things Are, The Mousehole Cat, The Patchwork Cat, Hanta Yo, Last Night in Twisted River,

Films I like: Serenity, The English Patient, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Tears of the Weeping Camel, Betty Blue, Birdy, Blade Runner, The Secret of Roan Innish, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Open Range, Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves, Waterworld, Star Trek ( the new one),The Unbearable Lightness of being, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

The artist helpfully includes alternate bio's, like:

...Jackie Morris is a grumpy, over weight, middle aged woman who feels life is slipping away far too fast. She lives in a small house by the sea and would love an apartment in Venice for occasional weekends. She likes painting, sometimes and at other times finds it very frustrating.....

Or in the words of one of her cats

.... ( as dictated by Elmo the Cat) Jackie Morris spends far too much time painting and drawing and too little time feeding and caring for Her cats that live with Her. She has a very strange dress sense and no fur.

A sample of her work--

There is more lovely detail at her website, and also her cat blog.

No comments: