William Steig


Born to Polish-Jewish immigrants, American William Steig pursued a diverse career in the arts.  During his 94 years, he worked as a cartoonist, a sculptor, a children’s book author and illustrator, a movie animator, an ad man and a greeting card designer.  In his youth, Steig attended three colleges, including City College of New York, the National Academy of Design and Yale School of Fine Arts, but he never obtained a degree.  Instead, when the Great Depression left his father unemployed, Steig began work for The New Yorker magazine, where he remained for 60 years sketching some 2,600 drawings and 117 cover designs.  At 61 when most people entertain retirement plans, Steig began his career as a children’s book author and illustrator, eventually producing 25 books, two of which won the prestigious Newbery Medal and another the most notable award given in the children’s book industry, the Caldecott Medal.  Among his more notable titles are Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Doctor De Soto, Abel’s Island, Brave Irene, Shrek, and Amos and Boris.  Never talking down to his audience, his narratives boast sparkling syntax and wit.  Steig received the Academy Award for Best Animated Short for his film adaptation of Doctor De Soto in 1984.  His book, Shrek, likewise was made into a Dreamworks animated film, which earned Steig healthy royalties during his final years.  In addition to his success in cartooning and children’s books, Steig credited himself with innovations in the contemporary greeting card industry, abandoning the saccharine sweet texts of his predecessors for what he termed “hate” cards.  With good-natured realism, Steig’s multi-faceted oeuvre radiates a wit and humor that continues to entertain adults and children alike. 


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