Barbara Firth

Original picture book artwork by Barbara Firth is available for purchase from Children’s Book Illustration.

Barbara Firth very sadly died in 2013. She was so much a part of Walker Books that I would like to refer you to their tribute to her written by David Lloyd. She’s greatly missed.

The multi award-winning illustrator of the classic Little Bear series.

“I’ve been so lucky to have a career doing what I love best. I’ve always drawn plants and animals from a very young age.” says illustrator Barbara Firth.

After her schooldays were over Barbara studied fashion and pattern cutting at the London College of Fashion. She then worked on Vogue Magazines, producing step-by-step illustrations of knitting, crochet and dressmaking. However, it was years later as a freelance illustrator and working with Walker Books that Barbara was able to illustrate in her favourite field – natural history – and has gone on to illustrate many award-winning books.

“I have always been biased toward illustrating natural history, so it was a joy to be able to draw pages and pages of bears,” Barbara Firth says of her collaboration with Martin Waddell on Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?, the first of their classic Big and Little Bear series. As part of her research, she spent hours at a zoo, carefully watching and recording the movements and habits of bears.

Barbara Firth won the Kate Greenaway Medal and Smarties Book Prize for Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? The Little Bear series has sold over seven million copies worldwide.

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