Mary by Brian Wildsmith


Mary by Brian Wildsmith

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, now available for the first time in paperback, Brian Wildsmith tells the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in a series of wonderful scenes, framed by gold. We read the touching story of Mary's parents, Anna and Joachim, the birth and childhood of Mary, her marriage to Joseph and the visit by the angel Gabriel. We then travel with Mary to Bethlehem and witness the magic of the Nativity. We watch Jesus growing up in Nazareth and Mary's sadness as he leaves to preach the gospel. We join Mary as she is plunged into grief by the cross and then share her joy in the resurrection. Finally we see Mary's assumption into heaven.


It is, as we would expect from Wildsmith, a book of great beauty... Books for Keeps

About the Author

Brian Wildsmith

Brian Wildsmith died on 31 August 2016 aged 86 in Grasse, France. He won himself a world-wide reputation as one of the greatest living children's illustrators.

He was born on 22nd January 1930 and raised in a small mining village near Sheffield. He won a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art, London where he studied for three years. He later taught maths at the Royal Military School of Music but gave it up so that he could pursue his passion for painting.

Wildsmith began working with Oxford University Press in the late 1950s when children’s publisher, Mabel George, commissioned him to illustrate 12 colour plates for Tales from the Arabian Nights. This was followed by ABC, published in 1961, which won the Kate Greenaway Medal.

Wildsmith’s "fruitful and creative" collaboration with OUP continued after George's retirement in 1974 with the appointment of Ron Heapy as publisher, a role which he held for more than 20 years. During this period Wildsmith produced some of his best-loved and best-known titles, including A Christmas Story and Cat on the Mat.

Since 2007 – the year that marked the centenary of children’s publishing at OUP – a number of Wildsmith’s books have been brought back into print, including his illustrated anthology of nursery rhymes, originally published in 1964, and his vivid imagining of The Twelve Days of Christmas, which first appeared in 1972. During the course of his long-standing association with OUP, Wildsmith wrote and illustrated more than 80 books.

A spokesperson for OUP said of Wildsmith: "He was an immensely thoughtful, compassionate, and perceptive man and these qualities touched all those at Oxford University Press who had the privilege to work with him over the years."

Wildsmith, who moved to France with his family in 1971, lost his wife, Aurélie, in 2015. He is survived by his four children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Brian Wildsmith on his illustrations:

‘Picture books give an opportunity for a marriage between painting and illustrating . . . I believe that beautiful picture books of the right kind are vitally important in subconsciously forming a child’s appreciation, which will bear fruit in later life.’

Tributes to Brian Wildsmith:

Author Michael Rosen (Children’s Laureate 2007-2009) said of Wildsmith: "Floods of colour exploding across the pages with a name to match: Wildsmith. He was a wild smith. I remember feeling envious: why hadn’t I had books as wild and lush as these?"

Picture-book maker, Catherine Rayner, (Kate Greenaway Medal winner 2009) has also long been inspired by Wildsmith's work. She said: "The balance he managed to create between the character in a storybook and the real creature is perfect. His illustrations provide a lively eyeful of activity and colour along with imaginative composition, which I find truly amazing."

‘Brian Wildsmith was one of the most original and influential picture book makers in the world, particularly in his use of colour and space.’ Anthony Browne, Children’s Laureate 2009-2011

Korky Paul on Brian Wildsmith:

'Brian Wildsmith's work came out in the 1960s and he changed picture books. It was revolutionary stuff. One of his best books is The Hare and the Tortoise. He uses his own colours. He plays with scale, and his animals have characters: roosters strut their stuff, chickens are always eating, cats always sleeping.

'What I like about his work is his wonderful use of white space; there are raggedy edges and extraordinary detail. He uses a mixture of media: watercolour, wash, then he works on top with chalk or pen. There is a lot of movement there.

'My work is more spiky, but I love trying to create a fantasy world and to stylise it. Children's books allow artists of all kinds to explore their own vision, how they see the world, and that's what Wildsmith achieves so well. Exposing children to that teaches them that there are all sorts of ways of viewing the world.' (The Guardian)

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Book Info


32 pages


Brian Wildsmith
More books by Brian Wildsmith

Author's Website


Publication date

1st March 2007



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