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RiP Gregory Rogers

Children’s book illustrator, author and teacher Gregory Rogers has died, aged 55.

Erica Wagner, publisher of books for children and teenagers at Allen & Unwin, writes:

‘Gregory Rogers passed away just after midday on May 1, 2013. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer three years ago, but rallied and lived to the full, right up to the last few weeks.

‘The children’s book community mourns him.

‘Greg (Gregory) Rogers was born on June 19, 1957 and lived most of his life in Brisbane. He studied fine art and worked as a graphic designer before taking up freelance illustration in 1987. His first major commissions in the world of books were covers for young adult novels for UQP. He created covers for scores of Australian publishers, a roll-call of literary greats including Peter Carey and Kate Grenville. His first illustrated trade picture book was Auntie Mary’s Dead Goat by Margaret Card in 1990. He went on to illustrate picture books for such authors as Margaret Wild, Ian Trevaskis, Laurie Stiller, Gary Crew, Libby Hathorn and Victor Kelleher as well as many educational books, anthologies of poems, collections of short stories and nonfiction texts. In 1993 his book, Lucy’s Bay, written by Gary Crew, was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year Award. In 1995 he won the prestigious UK Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations in Libby Hathorn’s Way Home, becoming the first Australian ever to receive this honour.

‘I got to know Greg in 2001 when I had just started publishing at Allen & Unwin. He wanted to create his own books and give free rein to his fun-loving side. He always had a thousand ideas, any of which could have grown into a book. We would muse over drawings and scraps of text while taking turns sitting in the comfortable red chair in his studio. Then inspiration would strike and we’d know what to do next. We learnt to trust that process.

‘Allen & Unwin went on to publish Greg’s brilliant wordless picture book series, comprising The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard (2004), Midsummer Knight (2006) and The Hero of Little Street (2009). The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, the Bard was shortlisted for the CBCA books awards in 2005 and was chosen by the New York Times as one of the year’s ten best illustrated children’s books published in the USA. It was also recognised by the American Library Association, the Australian and New Zealand Illustration Awards and the APA. The Hero of Little Street won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award in 2010 and last year it was awarded an Honour Listing by IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People).

‘Greg also taught and lectured in illustration in Australia and overseas. He painted portraits and was an entrant in the 2002 Archibald Prize. Greg was also a talented musician. He played the cornet, recorder and baroque guitar performing music of the 16th and 17th centuries. He was also a passionate collector of CDs, antiques, books and anything that might attract dust.

‘Greg was working on new projects right up to the end of his life—most recently for A&U illustrating Frances Watts’ Sword Girl series with trademark flair and humour, showing off not just his substantial knowledge of medieval life but also his understanding of cats. A number of picture books with other publishers will be released in the coming months and years, showcasing Greg at the height of his powers.

‘The Allen & Unwin team is so proud to have worked with Greg. We honour him for his creative spirit, his immense contribution to the world of children’s books, his love of life, and will miss him terribly.’


Category: Local news