Saturday, March 06, 2010

Richard Hook (1938-2010)

Richard Hook, whose illustrations appeared in a wide range of publications, including over 50 titles for Osprey Publishing, died on 12 January, aged 71. For two years he had been battling cancer.

Richard J. Hook was born in Godstone Surrey, in 1938, the son of Ernest J. Hook and his wife Leonora J. (nee Warwick). He suffered from rheumatic fever as a child and developed a fascination with history and drawing and a result of enforced idleness. He trained at the Royal College of Art and, after his National Service with the Queen's Royal Regiment, he spent some years with a London advertising agency. In 1962--the same year he married Hilary Litherland--he became art editor of the educational magazine Finding Out, published by Purnell, which brought him into contact with many of the country's leading illustrators. He developed lifelong friendships with other artists, including Ron Embleton and Angus McBride.

When Finding Out folded in 1966, Hook turned freelance and became one of the leading contributors to Look and Learn, as well as working for other children's books and magazines in England and abroad. His association with Osprey Publishing began in the 1970s. Although he illustrated a wide range of subjects, he became best known for his books on American Indians, the first of which was written by his son, author and publisher Jason Hook. His other children, Adam and Christa, are established illustrators.

Richard Hook was one of the finest illustrators for children's magazines, drawing a wide variety of historical, fantasy and nature subjects for Look and Learn, Bible Story, Treasure and Once Upon a Time. I always thought his best work was the scenes he drew of bustling streets in historical times, whether they were Edwardian, Victorian or further back in time, a small selection of which I've put in below. These scenes always struck me as being full of life and joy. You can find many more of his illustrations on the Look and Learn Picture Gallery.

A very good tribute to Hook by Martin Windrow has been published on the Osprey website. A page has been set up for donating to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity in Richard's memory.


Illustrated books
The Finding Out Book of Poems ed. Susan Wright. Paulton & London, Purnell, 1966.
Great Folk Tales of Old Ireland ed. Mary McGarry. London, Wolfe Publishing, 1972.
The Cat Family by Robert Burton. Basingstoke, Macmillan Education, 1976.
Warships by Hugh Gregor; illus. with others. Basingstoke, Macmillan Education, 1976.
The Slave Trade by Belinda Hollyer. Lodnon, Macdonald Educaitonal, 1977.
Exploring War and Weapons by by Brian Williams; illus. with others. London, Ward Lock, 1978; revised as War and Weapons, London, Kingfisher, 1987.
Exploring Knights and Castles by Jonathan Rutland; illus. with others. London, Ward Lock, 1978; revised as Knights and Castles, London, Kingfisher, 1987.
Napoleon's German Allies: Vol.3 Saxony 1906-1915 by Otto von Pivka. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 90), 1979.
Armies of the Cathaginian Wars 265-146BC by Terence Wise. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 121), 1982.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin retold by Rose Impey. Loughborough, Ladybird, 1985.
Robin Hood by Joan Collins. Loughborough, Ladybird, 1985.
Louis Braille by Stephen Keeler. Hove, Wayland, 1986.
The North American Indians by Anne Steel. Hove, Wayland, 1986.
The Vikings by Stephanie Barton; illus. with Jon Davis. Loughborough, Ladybird, 1986.
The Apaches by Jason Hook. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 186), 1987.
The Age of Chivalry by Haydn Middleton; illus. with others. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1988.
Lawrence and the Arab Revolts: Warfare and Soldiers of the Middle East, 1914-18 by David Nicolle. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 208), 1989.
American Woodland Indians by Michael G. Johnson. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 228), 1990.
The Army of Gustavus Adolphus: Infantry by Richard Brzenzinski. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 235), 1991.
The Native Tribes of North America: A Concise Encyclopedia by Michael G. Johnson. London, Windrow & Greene, 1993.
The Army of Gustavus Adolphus: Cavalry by Richard Brzenzinski. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 262), 1993.
The Mexican Adventure 1861-67 by Rene Chartrand. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 272), 1994.
Samurai Warfare by S. R. Turnbull. London, Arms & Armour, 1996.
Peter and the Wolf. Loughborough, Ladybird, 1998.
The Spartan Army by Nick Sekunda. London, Osprey (Elite 66), 1998.
Tannenberg 1410: Disaster for the Teutonic Knights. London, Osprey (Campaign 122), 2003.
The Texan Army, 1836-46 by Stuart Reid. Oxford, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 398), 2003.
The Confederate Army 1861-65 series:
__The Confederate Army 1861-65: Vol.1 South Carolina & Mississippi. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 423), 2005.
__The Confederate Army 1861-65: Vol.2 Florida, Alabama & Georgia. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 426), 2005.
__The Confederate Army 1861-65: Vol.3 Louisiana & Texas. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 430), 2006.
__The Confederate Army 1861-65: Vol.4 Virginia & Arkansas. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 435), 2006.
__The Confederate Army 1861-65: Vol.5 Tennessee & North Carolina. London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 441), 2007.
__The Confederate Army 1861-65: Vol.6 Missouri, Kentucky & Maryland by Ron Field London, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 446), 2008.
Fantasy Encyclopedia by Judy Allen; illus. with others. London, Kingfisher, 2005.
The Encyclopedia of the Unexplained by Judy Allen; illus. with others. London, Kingfisher, 2006.
Pirate of the Far East, 811-1639 by Stephen Turnbull. Oxford, Osprey (Warrior 125), 2007.
US Infantry in the Indian Wars, 1865-91 by Ron Field. Oxford, Osprey (Men-at-Arms 438), 2007.
Special Operations Forces in Iraq by Leigh Neville. Oxford, Osprey (Elite 170), 2008.

(* Illustrations from Look and Learn © Look and Learn Ltd.)


  1. He was a fantastic artist and an inspiration to many others.

  2. I loved his illustrations and they will forever be a huge influence on me and my own art work. Thank you for being an inspiration to many would be artists like myself



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