Randolph Caldecott was born in England on March 22, 1846. He started to draw and model animals when he was only 6 years old. His father didn't want him to be an artist. This did not stop Randolph. He drew pictures everywhere he went.When Randolph was 15 years old, he went to work in a bank, but still drew pictures. When he was 21, he went to the Manchester School of Art.
At first he sold his drawings and cartoons to magazines and newspapers. He also drew pictures for books intended for adults. Later he created the illustrations for 16 picture books for children. Today Mr. Caldecott is best remembered for those series of picture books.
Mr. Caldecott drew in pen and ink on smooth paper. The drawings were photographed onto wood. Then engravers cut the wood to get it ready for printing. Different wood blocks were cut for each color that was needed for a picture.
Mr. Caldecott's health had never been very good. He moved to the United States in hopes that a warmer climate would improve his health. Unfortunately, in 1886, when he was only 39 years old, he died from heart disease. He is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in St. Augustine, Florida.
Many people remembered how much they enjoyed reading Mr. Caldecott's books when they were children.
In 1938 the Caldecott Award was created.
Each year one illustrator receives a medal.
The medal was named after Randolph Caldecott because his drawings served as a model of what children's illustrations should be.
The Caldecott Medal is an award that is given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a part of the American Library Association. The medal is presented each year to an illustrator of children's picture books. The illustrator's art must appear in a book published in the United States.
The actual medal is bronze and has the winner's name and the date engraved on the back.
From the beginning of the awarding of the Caldecott Medals, committees could, and usually did, cite other books as worthy of attention. Such books were referred to as Caldecott "runners-up." In 1971 the term "runners-up" was changed to "honor books." The new terminology was made retroactive so that all former runners-up are now referred to as Caldecott Honor Books.
The actual medal is silver and also has the winner's name and the date engraved on the back.
The Caldecott Medal "shall be awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States during the preceding year. The award shall go to the artist, who must be a citizen or resident of the United States of America."
The Diverting History of John Gilpin by William Cowper.
It's a comic ballad by William Cowper about John Gilpin, written in 1782. It is the story about how John went farther than he intended, and came safe home again.
The ballad concerns a draper called John Gilpin who rides a runaway horse.
Cowper heard the story from Lady Anna Austen at a time of severe depression, and it cheered him up so much that he put it into verse.
The poem was first published anonymously in the Public Advertiser in 1782, and then published with The Task in 1785.
It was very popular, to the extent that "pirate copies were being sold all across the country, together with Gilpin books and toys."
The poem was republished in 1878, illustrated by Randolph Caldecott and printed by Edmund Evans.
Caldecott's image of Gilpin riding the horse is the basis for the design of the obverse of the Caldecott Medal.
The first book to receive the Caldecott Medal in 1938
The book Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book illustrated by Dorothy Lathrop, received the first Caldecott Medal in 1938.