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Catherine Greenaway (17 March 1846 – 6 November 1901) was a Victorian children's book illustrator and writer whose work influenced the children's style of the day. The only daughter of a successful draftsman and wood engraver, she studied graphic design and art between 1858 and 1869.[1][2]

Kate Greenaway
Kate Greenaway00.jpg
Born Catherine Greenaway
(1846-03-17)17 March 1846
Hoxton, London, England
Died 6 November 1901(1901-11-06) (aged 55)
Frognal, London, England
Nationality English
Education Heatherley School of Fine Art
Known for Creation of picture books

Her first book, "Under the Window" was an instant best seller and brought her celebrity, and was followed by the equally popular and critically successful "The Birthday Book" (1880), Mother Goose (1881) and "Little Ann" (1883). Concurrently, she developed a career as a water-colorist; with illustrators Walter Crane and Randolph Caldecott, Greenaway's work revolutionized the children's book market.[3] In the late 1870s Greenaway initiated a collaboration with printer and engraver Edmund Evans which lasted two decades.


Early lifeEdit

Kate Greenaway was born in Hoxton, London, the second of four children, to a working-class family. Elizabeth Greenaway was a dressmaker and John Greenaway a wood engraver, whose business failed when he took a commission to engrave illustrations for Charles Dickens's The Pickwick Papers from a publisher who went bankrupt.[4][5] As a young girl Kate lived with relatives in Rolleston, Nottinghamshire.[4] John wanted to work without interruptions on the Dickens's engravings and sent the entire family away for about two years, a period that for Kate, according to children's literature scholar Humphrey Carpenter "was crucial ... she felt it to be her real home, a country of the mind that she could always reimagine."[5]

On the return of his wife and children the family moved to Islington, living in the flat above a millinery shop Elizabeth Greenaway opened to provide an income. There was a garden outside the building, which Greenaway wrote about in letters and an unfinished autobiography in the 1880s, describing it as place with "richness of colour and depth of shade."[6] Her father took on work for The Illustrated London News, often bringing home the wood blocks to carve during the night.[4] Kate was interested in her father's work, and through him was exposed to the work of John Leech, John Gilbert and Kenny Meadows.[7]


As a young child Kate was educated at home and sent to series of dame schools. When she was about 12 she began formal art education when she enrolled in the National Course of Art instruction,[5] first at Finsbury School of Art and later at the South Kensington School of Art headed by Richard Burchett. The curriculum was design-based with a focus on technical skills, with emphasis on geometric and botanical designs to create patterns for architectural elements such as decorative wallpapers and tiles. She completed the five stages of ornamental courses in one year and the ten stages of the drawing courses with similar speed. In 1864, she completed the final course, "Elementary Design", winning a national bronze medal for her designs.[8] Later awards included a national silver medal in 1869 for a set of geometric and floral decorative tiles that "display charming harmonies of colour", according to biographer M. H. Spielmann.[9]

She later attended the Royal Female School of Art.[10] With classmate Elizabeth Thompson, Greenaway augmented her studies by learning to draw from the nude. The two young women rented a studio in South Kensington for a year for the purpose. At the school she did have the opportunity to work from models dressed in historical or ornamental costumes, skills she applied during the summers in Rolleston. But she continued to be frustrated that nude models were not permitted in the women's classes, so enrolled in night classes at Heatherley School of Fine Art where she met Edward Burne-Jones, Edward Poynter and Walter Crane. In 1871 she enrolled in the Slade School of Fine Art.[8]

Early workEdit

By 1867 she began to receive commissions,[8] in part the result of the national awards she received and in part because of exposure at exhibitions. The publisher of People's Magazine, W. J. Loftie purchased a set of six watercolours Greenaway exhibited in 1868, printing them in the magazine set to verse written by his contributors. A year later Frederick Warne & Co purchased six illustrations for a toy book edition of Diamonds and Toads.[11]


Her first book, Under the Window (1879), a collection of simple, perfectly idyllic verses about children, was a bestseller.[12]

As well as illustrating books Greenaway produced a number of bookplates.[13]

Later years and deathEdit

The house in Frognal built for Kate Greenaway by Richard Norman Shaw

Greenaway was elected to membership of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1889. She lived in an Arts and Crafts style house she commissioned from Richard Norman Shaw in Frognal, London, although she spent summers in Rolleston.

Greenaway died of breast cancer in 1901, at the age of 55.[14] She is buried in Hampstead Cemetery, London.


Greenaway's paintings were reproduced by chromoxylography, by which the colours were printed from hand-engraved wood blocks by the firm of Edmund Evans.[15] Through the 1880s and 1890s, her only rivals in popularity in children's book illustration were Walter Crane and Randolph Caldecott.

"Kate Greenaway" children, all of them girls and boys too young to be put in trousers, were dressed in her own versions of late 18th century and Regency fashions: smock-frocks and skeleton suits for boys, high-waisted pinafores and dresses with mobcaps and straw bonnets for girls. The influence of children's clothes in portraits by British painter John Hoppner (1758–1810) may have provided her some inspiration. Liberty of London adapted Kate Greenaway's drawings as designs for actual children's clothes. A full generation of mothers in the liberal-minded "artistic" British circles who called themselves The Souls and embraced the Arts and Crafts movement dressed their daughters in Kate Greenaway pantaloons and bonnets in the 1880s and 1890s.[12] The style was often used by painter Maude Goodman in her depictions of children.


The Kate Greenaway Medal, established in her honour in 1955, is awarded annually by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the UK to an illustrator of children's books.

Books illustratedEdit

List of works
  • Kingston, William, Infant Amusements, or How to Make a Nursery Happy, 1867.
  • Aulnoy, Marie, Madame D'Aulnoy's Fairy Tales, 9 v., Gall and Inglis, 1871.
  • Aunt Louisa's London Toy Books: Diamonds and Toads, Warne, 1871.
  • Jeune, Margaret S., My School Days in Paris, London, Griffith and Farran, 1871.
  • Knox, Kathleen, Fairy Gifts; or, A Wallet of Wonders, Griffith & Farran, 1874.
  • Aunt Cae, The Children of the Parsonage, Griffith & Farran, 1874.
  • Mulholland, Rosa, Puck and Blossom, Marcus Ward, 1874.
  • Hill, Miranda, The Fairy Spinner, Marcus Ward, 1874.
  • Jerrold, Alice, A Cruise in the Acorn, London, Marcus Ward, 1875.
  • Clark, Mary Senior, Turnaside Cottage, London, Marcus Ward, 1875.
  • Potter, Frederick Scarlett, Melcomb Manor: A Family Chronicle, London, Marcus Ward, 1875.
  • Children’s Songs, London, Marcus Ward, c. 1875.
  • Knox, Kathleen, Seven Birthdays; or, The Children of Fortune, Griffith & Farran, 1875.
  • 'Quiver of Love, a Collection of Valentines' (with Walter Crane), Marcus Ward, 1876.
  • LaBlanche, Fanny, Starlight Stories Told to Bright Eyes and Listening Ears, Griffith & Farran, 1877.
  • Russell, Rutherford, Tom Seven Years Old, London, Marcus Ward, 1877.
  • Hunt, Mrs. Bonavia, Poor Nelly, London, Cassell, Petter, Gilpin, 1878.
  • Campbell, Lady Colin, Topo: A Tale About English Children in Italy, Marcus Ward, 1878.
  • Yonge, Charlotte Mary, Heartsease; or The Brother’s Wife, Macmillan, 1879.
  • Yonge, Charlotte Mary, The Heir of Redclyffe, Macmillan, 1879.
  • Pollock, Walter Herries, Amateur Theatricals, London, Macmillan, 1879.
  • Toyland, Trot’s Journey and Other Poems and Stories, New York, R. Worthington, c. 1879
  • Weatherly, George, The “Little Folks” Painting Book, Cassell, Petter, Gilpin, 1879.
  • Weatherly, George, The “Little Folks” Nature Painting Book, Cassell, Petter, Gilpin 1879.
  • A Favorite Album of Fun and Fancy, London, Cassell, Petter, Gilpin, c. 1879.
  • Haile, Ellen, Three Brown Boys and Other Happy Children, New York, Cassell & Co., c. 1879.
  • Haile, Ellen, The Two Gray Girls and Their Opposite Neighbours, New York, Cassell & Co., c. 1879.
  • Under the Window, London, George Routledge, 1879. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Barker, Mrs. Sale, Kate Greenaway's Birthday Book, London, George Routledge, 1880. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Freddie’s Letter: Stories For Little People, London, Routledge, 1880.
  • The Old Farm Gate, London, George Routledge, c. 1880.
  • Lang, Andrew, The Library, London, Macmillan and Company, 1881.
  • Locker, Frederick, London Lyrics, London, Macmillan and Company, 1881.
  • Mother Goose; or, The Old Nursery Rhymes, London, Routledge, 1881. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Foster, Myles Burkett, A Day in a Child’s Life, London, Routledge, 1882. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Ranking, Montgomerie and Tully, Thomas K., Flowers and Fancies; Valentines Ancient and Modern, Marcus Ward, 1882.
  • Weatherly, F. E., The Illustrated Children’s Birthday Book (with others), London, W. Mack, 1882.
  • Taylor, Ann and Jane, Little Ann and Other Poems, London, Routledge, 1883. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Zimmern, Helen, Tales from the Edda, London, Sonnenschein, 1883.
  • Language of Flowers, London, Routledge, 1884. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • A Painting Book By Kate Greenaway, London, George Routledge, 1884. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Ellice, Robert, compiler, Songs for the Nursery: A Collection of Children’s Poems, Old and New, W. Mack, 1884.
  • Kate Greenaway’s Christmas Carols, London: George Routledge, c. 1884.
  • Kate Greenaway's Alphabet, London, Routledge, 1885. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Kate Greenaway's Album, London, Routledge, c. 1885. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans. (only eight copies were printed)
  • Marigold Garden: Pictures and Rhymes, London, Routledge, 1885. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Mavor, William, English Spelling Book, London, Routledge, 1885. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Ruskin, John, editor, 'Dame Wiggins of Lee and Her Seven Wonderful Cats, London, George Allen, 1885.
  • A Apple Pie: An Old-Fashioned Alphabet Book, London, Routledge, 1886. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Harte, Bret, The Queen of the Pirate Isle, Chatto & Windus, 1886. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Baby’s Birthday Book, London, Marcus Ward, 1886.
  • Allingham, William, Rhymes for the Young Folk, Cassell and Co., 1887. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Garland, London, George Routledge, 1887. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Browning, Robert, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, London, Routledge, 1888. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Around the House, New York, Worthington, 1888.
  • Kate Greenaway’s Book of Games, London, Routledge, 1889. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Cresswell, Beatrice F., The Royal Progress of King Pepito, London, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1889. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.
  • Arnim, Mary Annette, The April Baby’s Book of Tunes, London and New York, Macmillan, 1900. The first use of colour-lithography on any of Kate’s Books.
  • Spielmann, Mabel H., Littledom Castle and Other Tales (with others), London, George Routledge, 1903.
  • Dobson, Austin, De Libris Prose and Verse (with others), London, Macmillan, 1908, 1911.
  • Almanack, London, Routledge,1883–1895. Engraved and colour printed by Edmund Evans.



  1. ^ Devereux, 60
  2. ^ Spielmann, 48
  3. ^ Ray, 149
  4. ^ a b c Devereux, 49-50
  5. ^ a b c Carpenter, 225
  6. ^ Devereux, 50
  7. ^ Devereux, 53
  8. ^ a b c Devereux, 57-59
  9. ^ Spielmann, 42
  10. ^ Carpenter, 226
  11. ^ Greenaway Papers, USM de Grummond Library. Accessed October 4, 2017
  12. ^ a b Danger, 311
  13. ^ Clark, Keith. The Bookplate Designs of Kate Greenaway, in The Private Library Autumn 1975, published by the Private Libraries Association
  14. ^ K is for Kate. Cleveland Museum of Art. Retrieved September 18, 2017
  15. ^ Color Printing in the 19th century. University of Delaware.Retrieved September 18, 2017


  • Carpenter, Humphrey, and Mari Prichard. (1984). The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-211582-0
  • Danger, Sara R. "Producing the Romance of Mass Childhood: Kate Greenaway's 'Under the Window' and the Education Acts". Nineteenth-Century Contexts. Vol 31, No 4, Dec. 2009. 311-333
  • Devereux, Jo. The Making of Women Artists in Victorian England: The Education and Careers of Six Professional. Jefferson, NC: Macfarland, 2016. ISBN 978-0-7864-9409-5
  • Ray, Gordon Norton. The Illustrator and the book in England from 1790 to 1914. New York: Dover, 1991. ISBN 0-486-26955-8
  • Spielman, M. H., George Layard. Kate Greenaway London: Adam and Charles Black, 1905

Further readingEdit

  • Robert W. Kiger (ed.), Kate Greenaway: Catalogue of an Exhibition of Original Artworks and Related Materials Selected from the Frances Hooper Collection at the Hunt Institute, 1980: ISBN 0-913196-33-9
  • Taylor, Ina. The Art of Kate Greenaway: A Nostalgic Portrait of Childhood London, 1991. ISBN 0-88289-867-1
  • Shuster, Thomas E. and Rodney K. Engen, Printed Kate Greenaway: A Catalogue Raisonné, 1986. ISBN 0-9511752-0-3

External linksEdit