The Remarkable Career of Clement Hurd, Master Illustrator

Animals | Color Woodblock Print | Clement Hurd

The remarkable career of Clement Hurd, the master illustrator, spans over a period of several decades, marked by unforgettable contributions to the world of children’s literature. Born on this day January 12, 1908 in New York City, Hurd was not initially inclined towards illustration. He pursued his interest in architecture at Yale and later in Paris. However, his meeting with renowned children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown in 1938 changed the course of his career. It was Brown who introduced Hurd to the world of children’s literature, and this marked the beginning of a fruitful collaboration that would span over two decades.

Clement Hurd’s name is most famously associated with the beloved children’s classics “Goodnight Moon” and “The Runaway Bunny,” both written by Brown. His simple, yet evocative illustrations beautifully complemented Brown’s rhythmic text, creating a magical world that continues to captivate the imagination of children and adults alike. His ability to portray complex emotions through relatively simple illustrations is a testament to his mastery as an illustrator.

Hurd’s work was not just limited to Brown’s books. He also illustrated the well-known series “My World” and “The World is Round” by Gertrude Stein. His illustrations, characterized by their simplicity and understated elegance, have defined the visual landscape of many childhoods. His contribution to children’s literature extends beyond just his distinctive illustrations. He has been instrumental in shaping how stories are visually narrated, setting a benchmark for future illustrators.

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to children’s literature, Clement Hurd was awarded the Regina Medal by the Catholic Library Association in 1983. Despite passing away in 1988, Hurd’s legacy continues to live on through his timeless illustrations that have become an integral part of many childhood memories. The remarkable career of Clement Hurd is a testament to his enduring talent and his significant impact on children’s literature.

Curated by Jennifer