Biography

Dacha in snow 2012

The Garden Shed or Dacha where I work; writing on the right, drawing on the left, and usually with my dog Gracie beside me 

Gracie in garden august xx copy

Ian beck 1 copy

I was born in Hove,Sussex in 1947. I failed my eleven plus exam (there is hope you see) and thus went to the local secondary modern school a place invested it seemed in failure until the arrival of an enlightened headmaster Mr Turner to whom all is owed. I was there from 1958- 1963, and I was encouraged by both the art teacher Viktor Preim and the headmaster to attend Brighton College of Art Saturday morning art classes for children. I eventually went to the art school as a full time student (oh frabjous day) in September 1963. I studied illustration and graphic design.

I graduated in 1968, and shortly afterwards moved to London. I had a portfolio of drawings and I tried my luck as a freelance illustrator. I worked part time for a few months in Harrods toy dept, to pay the rent. I gave up Harrods as work came in and I gradually built up a client list. I worked mainly for mainstream magazines like Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, and Homes and Gardens. I also made drawings for the recording industry, at first these were mostly trade advertisements for various groups and performers including James Taylor, Ry Cooder, Beckett, Focus and Richie Havens. Later in the early seventies I designed and illustrated album covers as well. Most notably the triple gate-fold album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, for Sir Elton John. I continued to work in this field until the early 1980’s, while also producing illustration work for most of the leading design groups, advertising agencies, newspapers, and magazines.

Yellow Brick japan

In 1982 I was approached by the Oxford University Press, who had seen some colour drawings I had made for the Radio Times holiday supplement. Ally Souster, the designer at the OUP felt that the style and feel of my drawings would suit a project for children, which they wanted to publish. This became my first book, Round and Round the Garden, an illustrated collection of finger rhymes and games. It was through working on the book that I began my (continuing) relationship with the editor and publisher David Fickling.

round and round 1

After the success of Round and Round other illustrated rhyme collections followed, until 1989, when I was encouraged by David Fickling to write my own original story to illustrate, this was The Teddy Robber, (Doubleday 1989) from this point on the books more or less took over compeletely from the editorial work. Most of my time is now spent writing and sometimes illustrating my own books for children and young adults. 

teddy opener

I wrote my first novel for children, The Secret history of Tom Trueheart, Boy Adventurer, which was published in June 2006 and went on to be translated into more than twenty foreign languages. Two sequels followed, Tom Trueheart & The Land of Dark Stories, and Tom Trueheart & The Land of Myths and Legends I have written three other novels, Pastworld, The Hidden Kingdom, and The Haunting of Charity Delafield. I have recently completed two more, The Disappearance of Tom Pile being the first in a series titled The Casebooks of Captain Holloway which will be published in 2014and the provisionally titled Seven Gates of Glass which has yet to be submitted to a publisher and was written without contract  a first for me. I have been both president of the Double Crown Club, and Master of the Art Workers Guild. I hold the original artwork for most of my illustrated books and sales of originals and prints etc can be arranged through this site or through my agent below.

I am represented by Hilary Delamere at The Agency:   http://www.theagency.co.uk/agents/hilary-delamere.html

For school and library visits please contact Jan Powling: http://www.speakingofbooks.co.uk/

Tom T cover

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