Axel Scheffler was born in 1957 in Hamburg, Germany. He moved to England to study illustration at the Bath Academy of Art and, after graduating, moved to London where he began illustrating for a variety of English and German advertising companies, magazines and newspapers. He took his portfolio to a number of publishers and Faber commissioned him to illustrate The Piemakers by Helen Cresswell and The Bottle Rabbit by Bernard McCabe. In 1989, Walker asked Axel to illustrate a text by Jon Blake, You’re a Hero, Daley B.
Julia Donaldson was writing songs for Playdays at this time and her song A Squash and a Squeeze was commissioned to be a picture book by Macmillan Children’s Books. Axel Scheffler was recommended as an illustrator for the text and an award-winning team was created.
Their next book, The Gruffalo, was published in March 1999 and has become a modern classic, selling more than 10 million copies worldwide and translated into 31 languages. It won the 1999 Smarties Gold Medal Award and the 2000 Blue Peter Award amongst many other awards, and has been developed into plays on both the West End and Broadway. In 2009 it was made by Magic Light Pictures into a 30 minute animated film featuring the voices of Robbie Coltrane, James Corden, Rob Brydon and Helena Bonham Carter. Since then the company has produced many more films of Axel’s books, the most recent being Stick Man in 2015.
Axel Scheffler has achieved worldwide acclaim for his humorous illustrations and particular success in his collaborations with Julia Donaldson including, amongst many others; Room on the Broom (2001), The Smartest Giant in Town (2002) Snail and the Whale (2003), The Gruffalo’s Child (2004) and Stick Man, but he has also written and illustrated his own books and taken on several commissions.
Still living in London, Axel makes frequent visits to continental Europe. His hobbies include walking, cooking and reading and beadwork.