The world of children’s book illustration is filled with prolific and accomplished men and women. My curiosity about some of my predecessors sent me on a quest to discover the history of this noble profession and its participants. I was surprised to find in book after book that very few women were included. There was a mention here or there and a few images, but little else. The number of women’s biographies seemed disproportionately low compared to the number of women illustrators involved in the children’s book field. 

As a women starting out in the illustration field, I was curious about the lives of other women illustrators. How did they manage their time? What compromises did they make? How did their art affect their lives? Did work interfere with family life? How did the events or people in these women’s lives shape their artwork? Who or what were their influences? In short, did their life drive their art or did their art drive their life? For most, the answer will be both, so I have focused on to what extent the two were intertwined. You will find my conclusions for each woman under the heading ‘Raison d’Être’.

Included is a brief history of children’s book publishing and it’s relationship to the women involved. I do not profess to be an expert on the topic, only a casual observer.  With a Euro-centric perspective, it is filled with some fascinating insights into worldly events that shaped the industry and the role that women have filled in it.

My reason for creating this project is two-fold: I wanted to learn more about those that came before me and I was moved to rescue these accomplished women from obscurity.  My criteria for choosing an artist to include was to simply select any female children’s book illustrator who has an interesting life story to tell. For many, personal information sadly is not available, but whenever possible, anecdotes and images by some of these women are also included. Perhaps these additions may spark someone else’s interest to dig deeper. Let’s not let these talented women slip any further into obscurity.

This project was created as an independent study in art history for college credit. Rather than writing a paper that very few people would see, I envisioned an enjoyable website from which all might learn. In that regard, please respect the copyrights of the images. They are included for educational purposes only and are not to be copied for any reason.


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© 1999—2002 Denise Ortakales
All Illustrations are copyright by their respective owners. 
This page was last updated on 24 August 2002.

I have attempted to identify the owner of images where possible. I would like to hear from any
copyright owners who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided
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Review of this site by 
Andrea Mulder-Slater - Guide 
to Art History.

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