Children's Literature Interest Group: Interview with Anthony Browne

Anthony BrowneMarcia Williams, the well known children's author and illustrator of many books, including lively retellings of myths and legends, arranged for the following interview with Anthony Browne. The questions were put to him by girls in the Book Group at St. Marylebone School.

At what age did you start being an illustrator?

I started illustrating books when I was 28. Before that I’d been a medical illustrator (painting pictures of operations), and later designed greetings cards.

What inspired you to become an author?

I’d always liked to tell stories when I was a boy, and my drawings often had words in them. Now it’s my job to do what I loved to do when I was a child – I’m very lucky!

What was your dream as a child?

I wanted to be a journalist, a cartoonist or (ridiculously) a boxer.

What did you do before becoming an author?

See answer to question 1.

When you were younger, did you like art?

I’ve always loved drawing and looking at art (well, looking at everything really).

 What amazing books have you written?

 That’s a difficult one . . . my best books are Gorilla, Little Beauty, the Tunnel, Voices in the Park, Changes, Willy the Wimp, Willy the Dreamer, Hansel and Gretel and Zoo (phew!)

When did you start writing stories?


Why do you write such crazy and unusual books?

Well, it’s difficult to say really. I don’t think I’m crazy or unusual but my books do reflect my life and feelings.

What made you write the story, "Piggybook"?

It was based on a family I knew (not mine) – although my brother and I had some similarities to the 2 boys in the story.


Marcia has asked me to write “3 questions I’m never asked but wish I was.”

That’s really difficult . . . . I’ve been asked so many questions over the years it’s hard to think of any new ones. My favourite question I’ve ever been asked was from a child who asked, “Is Willy a real person or did you make him up?” (Willy looks like a chimpanzee dressed in human clothes). I think that child knows who Willy really is.

Another child once asked me if I’m obsessed with gorillas and toilets. Well, I’m fascinated by gorillas . . . .


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