E.H.Shepard became known simply as the “man who drew Pooh”, but he was an acclaimed artist in his own right.Born in 1879 and drawing and sketching from early childhood ,he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Arts where he became a distinguished artist. In 1900 while studying at the Academy,he met another student Florence Eleanor Chaplin and they met and fell in love and married in September 1904.They set up home in Shamley Green in Surrey.
Ernest and Florence had two children, Graham born in 1907 and Mary born in 1909. By 1921 he started work as an illustrator on Punch magazine, where he met A.A.Milne the future author of the Pooh books. Florence sadly died in 1927 following a nasal operation while under anaesthetic. He deeply missed Florence, his love of 27 years and buried himself in his work on ” The House at Pooh Corner”. The book was a huge success.
In 1930 Ernest received a commission to create the drawings for “The Wind in the Willows” written by Kenneth Grahame. This book went on to become a celebrated and much loved work throughout the world. During the year 1937 two happy events came into his life. His first grandchild Minette was born to his son Graham and his wife Ann, and his daughter Mary got married. When the Second World war began,Ernest joined the Home Guard as he was then over the military age.
He met his second wife Norah Carroll in 1942 and they married two years later. After the war he continued to work for Punch contributing sketches and cartoons.Two of his own children’s books that he had written and illustrated were published in the mid 1960′s.. We are very fortunate that his original Pooh drawings are on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum to which he donated in 1969.. The remainder of his manuscripts drawings and notebooks were gratefully accepted into the Surrey University Archive in 1979.
He received an O.B.E in 1972 and died at the ripe age of 96 years. E.H Shepard’s witty and very affectionate illustrations of Pooh and his friends have such lasting appeal and they have become classics the world over.