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The Art of Garth Williams

With 2012 marking the 60th anniversary of beloved children’s classic Charlotte’s Web, many people are talking about author E.B. White. But while we fell in love with Charlotte the wise grey spider, Wilbur the bravehearted pig, and the rest of the animals through White’s writing, the accompanying illustrations by Garth Williams are surely as unforgettable to most of us. If I close my eyes I can still see many of the images from the book – the concerned eyes of the ducks and geese, Wilbur’s proud and smiling face when winning a blue ribbon, the words Charlotte spun into her web, and the cunning, sly face of Templeton the rat. His beautiful, expressive drawings brought the words to life.

Williams (1912-1996) was well known for Charlotte’s Web, but illustrated astonishing numbers of children’s books, including other iconic, famous classic such as the first eight of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, The Cricket in Times Square, several books by Margaret Wise Brown and Russell Hoban, and countless more.

He also wrote seven books himself, and provided the illustrations as well of course. Those books are The Chicken Book: A Traditional Rhyme, Adventures of Benjamin Pink, Baby Animals, Baby Farm Animals, Baby’s First Book, The Rabbits’ Wedding, and Self-Portrait.

These titles and other illustrated by Garth Williams are worth exploring – once you recognize his style and linework, you’ll realize how many of the childhood books we loved best fell under his pen.

I found this absolutely lovely set of nine preliminary drawings from The Rabbits’ Wedding by Garth Williams for sale on the site. They’re just gorgeous – I love how deliciously soft and plump and real the rabbits look.

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