• Timeline


  • 1932

Born in Sidcup, Kent


  • 1938

(approximately) Picks up a pencil (or crayon) and has drawn every day ever since


  • 1940

Evacuated to the West Country away from the London Blitz


  • 1943

Starts at Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, where there is now a Quentin Blake Art Building.  Has drawings published in the school magazine, The Chronicle.


  • 1949

First cartoon published in Punch magazine.  “They paid me seven guineas.  I didn’t have a bank account so that when I got the first cheque I didn’t know what to do with it.”


  • 1951
  • 1951

Begins two years of National Service, serving in the Royal Army Educational Corps.  Illustrates English Parade, a booklet to help soldiers learn to read.


  • 1953

Enters Downing College, Cambridge to study English.  Whilst at University, produces two covers for the student magazine, Granta.


  • 1956

University of London Institute of Education – trains to be a teacher.


  • 1957

Attends Life Classes at Chelsea Art School, part-time.


  • 1960
  • 1960

Illustrated first children’s book, called 'A Drink of Water', written by John Yeoman.


  • 1965

Begins teaching at the Royal College of Art.


  • 1968

Writes first children’s book, Patrick, illustrated in full colour.


  • 1974
  • 1974
  • 1974

Begins collaboration with Russell Hoban, illustrating How Tom Beat Captain Najork and his Hired Sportsmen.  Russell Hoban died in 2011, a few months before the publication of Rosie’s Magic Horse, their final book together.
Also begins long-lasting collaborations with Michael Rosen and Joan Aiken.


  • 1976

Illustrates first classic book for The Folio Society, London: The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll.  A further 11 titles follow, including Animal Farm by George Orwell (1984), Cervantes' Don Quixote (1995), Voltaire's Candide (2011) and Fifty Fables of La Fontaine (2013).


Appeares on BBC TV Jackanory narrating and illustrating his 'Lester' stories live on camera.


  • 1978
  • 1978

Becomes Head of the Illustration Department at the Royal College of Art.  Publishes first book with Roald Dahl - The Enormous Crocodile – followed by (among others) The Twits, The BFG and Matilda.  Their collaboration continued until Roald Dahl’s death in 1990.


  • 1980
  • 1980

Mister Magnolia published, which wins the Kate Greenaway medal.
Appointed RDI (Royal Designer for Industry) at the RSA in London.


Illustrates Roald Dahl's The BFG, which includes receiving one of the author's sandals through the post


  • 1983

Awarded the ‘Silver Paintbrush’ (in The Netherlands) for illustrations in Roald Dahl’s The BFG.  Roald Dahl wins the ‘Silver Slate Pencil’ for the book at the same time. 


  • 1987

The unstoppable Mrs Armitage and her faithful hound Breakspear appear for their first outing, Mrs Armitage on Wheels.  These are the only two of Quentin's characters ever to appear in more than one story, with Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave (1997) and Mrs Armitage, Queen of the Road (2003) continuing their adventures.


  • 1988

Appointed OBE.


  • 1990

Wins the Kurt Maschler award for All Join In


  • 1991
  • 1991

Becomes a trustee of the newly-established Roald Dahl Foundation.  (It is now Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, with Quentin as its President). 


  • 1992

Illustrates Mortimer and Arabel – the final book in the much-loved series by Joan Aiken.  Their collaboration began in 1974.


  • 1993

Commissioned by the Royal Mail to design a set of postage stamps based on Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol


  • 1994
  • 1994

Commissioned to illustrate the early Roald Dahl titles which had been published prior to their collaboration, including Fantastic Mr Fox and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


  • 1996

Wins the Bologna Ragazzi Prize, and the Nestle Smarties Book Prize (bronze medal) both for Clown


  • 1997

Turns 65.  Tries to retire....


  • 1998

Wins the Kurt Maschler Award, and the Nestle Smarties Book Prize (bronze medal), for The Green Ship


  • 1999

Appointed as first Children’s Laureate for a two-year term.


  • 2000

Supports the newly-formed arts education charity 'The Campaign for Drawing' and is a regular contributor to Big Draw events each year for a decade


Curates 'Tell Me a Picture' at the National Gallery, the first exhibition in which he apparently 'draws on the walls' thanks to large-scale printing of his artworks.


  • 2002

Wins the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the world's most prestigious award for children’s books.
A bilingual German-English school in Berlin becomes 'The Quentin Blake Europe School' in his honour.


  • 2003

Major retrospective exhibition, 'Quentin Blake – Fifty Years of Illustration', opens at Somerset House in London.  It toured the UK for two years.


  • 2004
  • 2004

Illustrates Michael Rosen’s 'Sad Book', which wins the 4-11 category in the English Book Awards. Michael Rosen, who is himself a former Children’s Laureate, is another long-standing collaborator.  
Created ‘Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres’ in France for services to literature.


  • 2005
  • 2005

Appointed CBE. Curates an exhibition called 'Les Demoiselles des Bords de Seine' to celebrate the re-opening of the Petit Palais in Paris.


  • 2006
  • 2006
  • 2006

First commission from The Nightingale Project, to produce artwork for an older adults’ ward in a London hospital. This is the beginning of a fruitful collaboration that produced more than 250 artworks for hospitals in the UK and France.


  • 2007

Creates a five-storey-high wrap for a building in St Pancras.


  • 2008

Wins JM Barrie Award for 'a lifetime's achievement in delighting children with work that will stand the test of time'


  • 2009
  • 2009

Produces ‘An Informal Panorama’ – a giant frieze celebrating great historical figures from Cambridge University – for its 800th anniversary.  The frieze is now on permanent display in Addenbrooke’s Hospital.


  • 2010

Illustrates ‘Mr Stink’, the second of two books with David Walliams.  The book has currently sold more than 250,000 copies and has been adapted for television.


  • 2011

Awarded the Prince Philip Designers’ Prize;
The exhibition 'Quentin Blake: As Large as Life', a celebration of his work for hospitals since 2005, opens at Compton Verney, Warwickshire.  The show toured the UK until late 2014.


  • 2012

Publishes  Beyond the Page, an account of his work since 2000, much of which has been for hospitals and other public spaces.

Receives the Eleanor Farjeon Award for his outstanding contribution to the world of children's books.


  • 2013

Receives a knighthood for ‘services to illustration’ in the New Year’s Honours list.


  • 2014
  • 2014

Awarded the insignia of ‘Chevalier’ in the French Légion d’honneur.  Landmark show ‘Quentin Blake: Inside Stories’ is the inaugural exhibition at the new London home of the House of Illustration.


  • 2015
  • 2015
  • 2015

Admitted as a Freeman of the City of London.   

Creates artworks for 'Life under Water: A Hastings Celebration', a special exhibition for the Jerwood Gallery, inspired by the town where he has a home. 

The newly-reopened children's library at the Institut Francais in London is renamed 'Bibliotheque Quentin Blake' in his honour.


  • 2016
  • 2016

Commissioned to illustrate an unpublished story by Beatrix Potter, 'The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots' to coincide with her 150th anniversary.

Helps to celebrate the centenary of his friend and most well-known collaborator, Roald Dahl.

Curates 'Seven Kinds of Magic', the inaugural exhibition in the House of Illustration's new Quentin Blake Gallery.


  • 2017

Takes his work in a new direction and scale at Jerwood Gallery's 'Quentin Blake: The Only Way to Travel' exhibition

Illustrates 'Billy and the Minpins' for the first time, twenty five years after its first publication.  It is the only children's title by friend and collaborator, Roald Dahl, for which he had not provided pictures before


  • 2018
  • 2018

Creates a unique mural at the Science Museum in London, depicting 20 of the world's leading scientists and innovators of the past 200 years