Raymond Briggs has changed the face of children’s picture books, with his innovations of both form and subject. Stylistically versatile, he has illustrated some sixty books, twenty of them with his own text, and first became a household name in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a handful of books – Father Christmas, Fungus the Bogeyman, The Snowman, When the Wind Blows – that were entertaining and subversive and appealed to both children and adults. The refrains of his work are class, family, love and loss. Nevertheless, his default mode of expression is humour. Briggs is always funny, and the balance between this and melancholy is his defining characteristic, though his style ranges from the romantic to the grotesque, from the fanciful to the direct.
Encompassing sixty years of Raymond Briggs’s work, from political picturebooks to children’s classics, this study explores his themes of class, family and loss, and how he demonstrates both emotional power and great technical skill.