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Barry Parnell collection of Quentin Blake ephemera, illustrations and books

Identifier: KA-0159-01


This collection contains holiday cards, illustrations and children’s books sent to Barry Parnell by illustrator Quentin Blake and author John Yeoman over the span of nearly fifty years, testament to their lifelong friendship. 


  • circa 1969-circa 2016



3.7 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Barry Parnell collection of Quentin Blake ephemera, illustrations and books consists of holiday cards, illustrations and children’s books sent to Parnell by Blake and John Yeoman over a span of nearly fifty years. Parnell and Blake likely met at Sidcup and Chislehurst County Grammer School and remained lifelong friends. The holiday cards feature illustrations by Blake, and contain holiday wishes from Blake and Yeoman, and occasionally from another individual, Mike White. Many of the cards are commercially produced, but the earliest ones were likely printed just for family and friends. The cards were kept in two scrapbooks by Parnell. The books are publications illustrated by Blake, sometimes authored by Yeoman, and often inscribed to Parnell on the inside cover. They include two exhibition catalogs of Blake’s work. It appears that some of these were sent to Parnell around the holidays, along with the cards. The collection also contains several original illustrations in ink and color wash by Blake, one of which, a Santa cartoon, was commissioned by Parnell. A notable item in the collection is the original illustration of a scene from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream that Blake created for a 1962 Punch magazine cover, mounted on a mat alongside the published cover. Additional material in the collection includes correspondence between Yeoman and Parnell, a photograph of Blake’s residence in Hastings, England, and an apron featuring Blake’s illustration of a Roald Dahl book.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Biographical Note

Quentin Blake (born 1932, Sidcup, Kent, United Kingdom) is a British illustrator and writer most associated with children’s literature. His artwork was first published at age sixteen in the British humor magazine Punch. Blake studied English at Downing College, Cambridge, from 1953 to 1956, later training to become a teacher for a year at University of London and studying art part-time at Chelsea Art School. Blake continued to illustrate for British magazines, and in 1960, he published his first children’s book, A Drink of Water, with frequent collaborator, friend, and fellow Cambridge student, author John Yeoman. In addition to a career teaching English in the United Kingdom, Yeoman has collaborated with Blake on over twenty-five children’s books as of 2022.

Blake has worked with several other well-known children’s writers during the course of his career, including Joan Aiken, Sylvia Plath, William Stieg, and Dr. Seuss. Blake’s most noted collaboration, however, was with Roald Dahl; he illustrated eighteen of Dahl’s books over fifteen years from 1975 until Dahl’s death in 1990. Among Blake and Dahl’s most popular collaborations were The BFG (1982) and Matilda (1988). In 1995, Blake illustrated a new edition of one of Dahl’s most famous works, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, originally published in 1964.

Blake has also authored and illustrated his own books, starting in 1968 with Patrick. In addition to his professional illustration career, Blake taught for over twenty years at the Royal College of Art beginning in 1965, heading the illustration department from 1978 to 1986.

In 1999, Blake was conferred the title of the first British Children’s Laureate by Princess Anne. Blake has won several other awards for his work as well: he received the 2002 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, he was knighted by Prince Charles in 2013, and he was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 2017.


“Biography.” Accessed June 7, 2022.

British Council. “Sir Quentin Blake: Biography.” British Council, Literature. Accessed June 7, 2022.

Maissen, Leena. “Quentin Blake is the first children's laureate.” Bookbird 37, no. 3 (1999): 37-38.

“Quentin Blake, Born 1932.” Lives Retold. Accessed June 7, 2022.

Royal Academy of Arts. “Sir Quentin Blake (b. 1932).” RA Collection: People and Organisations. Accessed June 7, 2022.

United Agents. “John Yeoman.” United Agents: Books: Childrens. Accessed June 7, 2022.

Barry Ross Parnell (born 1933, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) was raised in England, where he attended Sidcup and Chislehurst County Grammer School. He served as a private in the United States Army, and studied theatre and English at Los Angeles City College, earning an Associate of Arts Degree there in 1954. Parnell then worked in the film and television industry in California, first as a film librarian and then as a producer. He retired in 1998. He has authored at least one novel.


"Barry Ross Parnell." Accessed August 29, 2022.

"Barry Ross Parnell." Accessed August 29, 2022.

"Barry Ross Parnell." Accessed August 29, 2022.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the New School Archives and Special Collections by Barry Ross Parnell in Honor of Gail Hensley in 2018.

Guide to the Barry Parnell collection of Quentin Blake ephemera, illustrations and books
Jason Adamo and New School Archives Staff
August 29, 2022
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