Charity walking on air after Wimbledon’s Raymond Briggs annotated Snowman raises £12k

A revised first edition of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman was sold for £12,000 in an auction organised by Quentin Blake’s charity House of Illustration.

Sold at London Sotheby’s on December 8, Raymond adapted his first edition by signing it and noting his thoughts and memories to the previously wordless illustrations.

Featured alongside the iconic image of the snowman taking flight are the words:

Fast running seems to turn into flying quite naturally. Snowmen are made of snow which floats down from the sky, so going up there again seems natural. My own house and garden, much simplified and idealised…

The money from the sale will go to House of Illustration, a charity that organises exhibitions, events and talks.

Dr Phillip Errington, the director of Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts, said: “There was a lot of interest in the piece and frenetic bidding for it.

“Obviously such a classic book with the extra annotations made it very special. We are delighted it sold for £12,000.”

Born in Wimbledon in 1934, Raymond Briggs was educated at Rutlish School in Merton before going on to study at Wimbledon School of Art between 1949 and 1953.

He produced Father Christmas, Father Christmas Goes on Holiday and Fungus the Bogeyman in comic format, winning his second Kate Greenaway Medal for the former.

But it was his book The Snowman that brought Raymond international acclaim.

Raymond said: “Many people have said that this book is a parable about death.

“That was not my intention but my parents both died in 1971 and my wife, Jean, died in 1973.The book was published in 1978.”

While pondering his original illustrations, Raymond wrote: “Blue and white striped pyjamas; pre-historic I’m told. For me, pyjamas have to be blue and white stripes otherwise they are not pyjamas.”

He added: “Dressing gown! Pre-historic again? Youngsters now wear ONESIES, whatever they are.”

Raymond also retrospectively considered the final image of his snowman.

“I’ve only recently noticed, after 30-odd years, that the melted snowman almost makes a face – the three lumps of coal resemble eyes and a nose. I wish it wasn’t there,” he wrote.

The first edition was sold alongside the adapted works of 38 other coveted illustrators, such as Quentin Blake.

Picture courtesy of Sotheby’s, with thanks

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