Original picture book artwork by Helen Craig is available for purchase from Children’s Book Illustration together with a selection of Angelina Ballerina artist’s proofs.
Helen Craig had donated what she thought was her entire Angelina Ballerina archive to Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books in 2014. However, a few pieces were re-discovered in Helen’s studio in January 2016. Seven Stories were given those crucial to the archive, but we were lucky enough to be able to offer the remainder.
Helen Craig spent her childhood in a remote part of Essex living in a tiny thatched cottage with no electricity or running water. Her father was Edward Craig, the writer and designer for theatre and films; her grandfather was Edward Gordon Craig, also a theatrical designer and producer and the son of
Dame Ellen Terry. She loved drawing but “I felt rather overwhelmed by this wealth of talent around me,” and never thought of it as a profession and did not attend art school. Instead she was apprenticed at the age of 16 to a firm of
commercial photographers and later worked as a portrait photographer in her own studio in London. She lived in Spain for three years and it was there that she began drawing seriously and making ceramic sculpture.
She started illustrating children’s books in 1969 – while bringing up her small son alone – and has since then completed over sixty, including sixteen titles about her popular mouse character Angelina Ballerina. Helen usually
works in watercolour but she illustrated The Yellow House using etchings and aquatints. Her retelling of Aesop’s fable The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse was shortlisted for the 1992 Smarties Book Prize and she enjoyed the characters Charlie and Tyler so much that she wrote Charlie and Tyler at the Seaside.
Helen now lives just outside Cambridge. She collects children’s books, new and old, and hopes one day to find time to do other work – painting from life and sculpture.