British Cartoon Archive


E. H. Shepard was born on 10 December 1879 in St John's Wood, London, the son of Henry Dunkin Shepard, an architect and amateur painter. His mother, Jessie Harriet Lee, was the daughter of the watercolour artist William Lee, and as a child Ernest modelled for Sir Francis Dicksee, who was a family friend and later became President of the Royal Academy. Educated at St John's Wood Preparatory School, Colet Court School, and St Paul's School - with G. K. Chesterton and Compton Mackenzie, Shepard studied art - with Stampa - at Heatherley's in 1896, aged sixteen. He won a scholarship to the RA Schools, which he attended from 1897 to 1902.

On graduation Shepard worked first as a painter- exhibiting at the RA in 1901 - but he also contributed joke cartoons and illustrations to Graphic, Illustrated London News, Printer's Pie, London Opinion, Nash's, Odd Volume, Pears Annual and the Sketch. The illustrator Edwin Abbey introduced him to Linley Sambourne, who helped him get his first cartoons published in Punch in 1907. Shepard volunteered for the army in 1915, and served in the Royal Artillery for the remainder of the First World War, being posted to France, Belgium and Italy. He achieved the rank of major, and was awarded the Military Cross at Ypres in 1917. He was demobilised in 1918, and returned to cartooning.

Shepard worked for Punch for nearly fifty years, contributing jokes, political cartoons and covers. In 1921 he joined the Punch Table, and in 1935 succeeded Raven Hill as Second Cartoonist, eventually succeeding Bernard Partridge as Cartoonist in 1945. However, Shepard was never well suited to the job of political cartoonist, and his careful and detailed drawings seemed heavy on the page. In 1949 Shepard handed the job to Leslie Illingworth, and in 1954 he stopped contributing to Punch.

Shepard became far better known as a book illustrator, notably for When We Were Very Young and the subsequent "Winnie the Pooh" stories written by A. A. Milne, the Assistant Editor of Punch. These began appearing in the magazine in January 1924. The images of Piglet, Eeyore the donkey - Shepard's own favourite - and Tigger were all invented, but Christopher Robin was A. A. Milne's son, and the original drawing of Pooh was based on a teddy bear named "Growler," owned by Shepard's son. The stories proved very popular, but the critics were not unanimous in their approval. Dorothy Parker, reviewing The House at Pooh Corner for the New Yorker in her role as "Constant Reader", wrote that "Tonstant Weader fwowed up."

Shepard was equally successful with other children's books. His Wind in the Willows characters proved more popular than Rackham's originals, although he refused to work on Peter Pan because he felt it could not be illustrated. An admirer of Phil May and Charles Keene, Shepard liked using small stubs of pencil and worked in ink, pen and occasional black crayon on smooth art board or watercolour paper. He rarely employed solid blacks, preferring cross-hatching and fine line or crayon for shadows. He also painted in oils. Fougasse regarded Shepard as "one of the great line draughtsmen, artistic descendant, like Gibson, of the American Edwin Abbey."

Known to his family and friends as Kipper, Shepard married Florence Chaplin, granddaughter of the engraver Ebenezer Landells - one of the founders of Punch. Their daughter Mary Shepard married Punch's editor E. V. Knox, and was also an illustrator - notably of Mary Poppins. Shepard's fame continued with the growing success of "Winnie the Pooh", although he dismissed the 1966 Disney animated film as "a travesty." A member of the Savage Club, Shepard was appointed OBE in 1972. He died in Midhurst, Sussex, on 24 March 1976, at the age of ninety-six.



109 catalogued originals [ES0001 - 0109]


30s; 40s; 50s

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