The Illustrations of Charles Keeping

The Illustrations of Charles Keeping

Charles Keeping (1924 – 1988) is one of my favourite 20th century illustrators. He rose to prominence by illustrating Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels for children.

 I have always had a strong feeling that Charles was a true genius… it is my belief that he came to maturity very slowly (not in terms of technique, at which he was a master from his earliest days) but from the point of view of his self-confidence as an artist. … he was all the time growing and developing as a man whose whole life, heart and mind, was dedicated to exploring the human situation in a universe that he found both beautiful and terrifying.

Mabel George, Keeping’s editor

Charles Keeping wrote and illustrated Alfie and the Ferryboat (1968), which is now hard to get. Alfie is a young boy who lives in Woolwich on the River Thames. The boy is friends with a sailor called ‘Old Bunty’. The boy also has a dog. Alfie’s mission is to find Old Bunty. He ends up on the Woolwich Ferry which functions as a fantasy portal, taking him to ‘the other side of the world’.

The illustrations for Alfie and the Ferryboat were highly experimental at the time and still wonderful.

Charles Keeping (1969) From Knights, Beasts and Wonders, Sir-Gawayn and the Green Knight
Charles Keeping (1969) From Knights, Beasts and Wonders, Sir-Gawayn and the Green Knight
The Beginning of the Armadillos illustrated by Charles Keeping 1982
The Beginning of the Armadillos illustrated by Charles Keeping 1982
The Beginning of the Armadillos illustrated by Charles Keeping 1982
The Beginning of the Armadillos illustrated by Charles Keeping 1982
The Beginning of the Armadillos illustrated by Charles Keeping 1982
The Beginning of the Armadillos illustrated by Charles Keeping 1982
Classic Ghost Stories 1973 illustrated by Charles Keeping
1973 illustration by Charles Keeping for the M. R. James ghost story
1973 illustration by Charles Keeping for the M. R. James ghost story A Warning to the Curious
The Tale Of Sir Gawain
The Wedding Ghost elderly
1969 From the book ‘Knights, Beasts and Wonders’ horse
1976 from the book ‘Les Miserables’
‘Two white horses’, ‘Les Miserables’ 1976
‘To arms!’, ‘Les Miserables’ 1976
‘The ravens croaked as they divided the corpses between them’ From the book ’The Tale Of Prince Igor’ 1979
Charles Keeping illustration for 1973 Folio Society edition of The Ghost Stories of M R James
Charles Keeping from the book ‘Cockney Ding Dong’ 1975
Charles Keeping from the book ‘Cockney Ding Dong’ 1975
Charles Keeping from the book ‘Cockney Ding Dong’ 1975
Cover of 1974 book Railway Passage illustrated by Charles Keeping
1974 Charles Keeping illustration of children playing in dirt and rubble at the dump with beautiful rendering of brickwork
Cover of 1974 book Railway Passage illustrated by Charles Keeping
Charles Keeping illustration for 1974 book Railway Passage. High angle shot of children waving goodbye to man in a small automatic car
Cover of 1974 book Railway Passage illustrated by Charles Keeping

Inter City 1977

Inter city was the name given to the train service in Britain during the 1970s. Apart from getting on/off and a few in the carriages, this picture book is framed as if your looking out of the window as the train leaves London. The train travels through the suburbs, then through the countryside.

It’s unlikely you’ve seen brick work illustrated as intricately as in Charles Keeping’s book Railway Passage. (But for some other examples of brickwork in illustration, see here.)

Charles Keeping 1978 ‘A Kind of Wild Justice
Charles Keeping 1978 ‘A Kind of Wild Justice
Charles Keeping 1978 ‘A Kind of Wild Justice
Charles Keeping, illustration for Rosemary Sutcliff’s ‘Warrior Scarlet’
Terry on the Fence (1975) by Bernard Ashley
Terry on the Fence (1975) by Bernard Ashley
Terry on the Fence (1975) by Bernard Ashley
Terry on the Fence (1975) for a book by Bernard Ashley
Charles Keeping 1976 from the book ‘The wildman’ The trueish story of a merman caught at Orford, Suffolk U.K. in the time of King Henry ll
Charles Keeping 1976 from the book ‘The wildman’ The trueish story of a merman caught at Orford, Suffolk U.K. in the time of King Henry ll
Charles Keeping 1976 from the book ‘The wildman’ The trueish story of a merman caught at Orford, Suffolk U.K. in the time of King Henry ll
Charles Keeping 1976 from the book ‘The wildman’ The trueish story of a merman caught at Orford, Suffolk U.K. in the time of King Henry ll
Charles Keeping 1976 from the book ‘The wildman’ The trueish story of a merman caught at Orford, Suffolk U.K. in the time of King Henry ll
Charles Keeping 1976 from the book ‘The wildman’ The trueish story of a merman caught at Orford, Suffolk U.K. in the time of King Henry ll
Charles Keeping 1976 from the book ‘The wildman’ The trueish story of a merman caught at Orford, Suffolk U.K. in the time of King Henry ll
Charles Keeping 1976 from the book ‘The wildman’ The trueish story of a merman caught at Orford, Suffolk U.K. in the time of King Henry ll

A merman was caught at Orford in Suffolk during the reign of Henry 2 (1154-1189). He was imprisoend in the newly-built castle, did not recognise the Cross, did not talk despite torture, returned voluntarily into captivity having eluded three rows of nets, and then disappeared never to be seen again. Taht’s what the chornicler Ralph of Coggeshall says in his ‘Chronicon Anglicanum’.

COVER COPY
The Life Of Our Lord illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Life Of Our Lord illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Life Of Our Lord illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Life Of Our Lord illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Life Of Our Lord illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Life Of Our Lord illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Life Of Our Lord illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Life Of Our Lord illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Life Of Our Lord illustrated by Charles Keeping
The Life Of Our Lord illustrated by Charles Keeping
Charles Keeping ‘The tale of ancient Israel’ 1969
Charles Keeping ‘The tale of ancient Israel’ 1969
Charles Keeping ‘The tale of ancient Israel’ 1969
Charles Keeping ‘The tale of ancient Israel’ 1969
Charles Keeping ‘The tale of ancient Israel’ 1969
Charles Keeping ‘The tale of ancient Israel’ 1969
Charles Keeping ‘The tale of ancient Israel’ 1969
Charles Keeping From the book ‘The Golden Age & Dream Days’ 1962
Charles Keeping From the book ‘The Golden Age & Dream Days’ 1962
Charles Keeping From the book ‘The Golden Age & Dream Days’ 1962
Charles Keeping From the book ‘The Golden Age & Dream Days’ 1962
Charles Keeping From the book ‘The Golden Age & Dream Days’ 1962
Charles Keeping From the book ‘The Golden Age & Dream Days’ 1962
Charles Keeping From the book ‘The Golden Age & Dream Days’ 1962
Charles Keeping From the book ‘The Golden Age & Dream Days’ 1962
Charles Keeping for ‘Patrick Kentigern Keenan’ 1963 US title ‘The smartest man in Ireland’
Charles Keeping for ‘Patrick Kentigern Keenan’ 1963 US title ‘The smartest man in Ireland’
Charles Keeping for ‘Patrick Kentigern Keenan’ 1963 US title ‘The smartest man in Ireland’
Charles Keeping for ‘Patrick Kentigern Keenan’ 1963 US title ‘The smartest man in Ireland’
Charles Keeping for ‘Patrick Kentigern Keenan’ 1963 US title ‘The smartest man in Ireland’
Charles Keeping for ‘Patrick Kentigern Keenan’ 1963 US title ‘The smartest man in Ireland’
Charles Keeping for ‘Patrick Kentigern Keenan’ 1963 US title ‘The smartest man in Ireland’
Charles Keeping for ‘Patrick Kentigern Keenan’ 1963 US title ‘The smartest man in Ireland’
Charles Keeping for ‘Patrick Kentigern Keenan’ 1963 US title ‘The smartest man in Ireland’
Charles Keeping for ‘Patrick Kentigern Keenan’ 1963 US title ‘The smartest man in Ireland’

To live up to his boast of being the smartest man in Ireland, Patrick Kentigern Keenan will do anything–he’ll even try to outwit the fairies. When the first three battles of wits end in draws, the fairies enchant Patrick’s son. To win back his boy, Patrick will have to prove once and for all that he is not only the smartest man in Ireland, but the bravest as well. “An exhilarating adventure-fantasy with real Irish flavor . . . imagination, humor, gaiety and some underlying sadness.”

The New York Times Book Review
Flood Warning 1960 edition
Highway Man by Charles Keeping
Charles Keeping All Quiet on the Western Front 1966
Charles Keeping All Quiet on the Western Front 1966
Charles Keeping All Quiet on the Western Front 1966
Charles Keeping All Quiet on the Western Front 1966
Lemon girl young adult novella

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Those who tell the stories rule the world.

Native American Proverb