Kate Greenaway was a highly popular children’s book illustrator during the 1860s to 80s. She was the daughter of an engraver and trained at the Finsbury School of Art before attending the Slade School of Art.
Her drawings tended to show young children playing in idyllic settings, and in general were carried out in line drawing with very basic colouring. Rather than showing children of her own time, her figures tended to be dressed in imagined historic dress, usually based on the early 1800s period. Her illustrations were used to accompany many different types of books from song-books to calendars.Despite her popularity, by the 1880s her illustrations were going out of fashion. Today however, one of the leading children’s illustration prizes takes her name.
Greenaway was also influenced by Ruskin, who publicly praised but privately both praised and criticised her work. She carried out various commissions for him, including a design for a ceremonial May Queen dress and illustrations for his books. Unfortunately Greenaway suffered unrequited love for Ruskin which, together with the lessening popularity of her work, caused her great unhappiness later in her life.