Jackie Morris is a British writer and illustrator. She was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2016 and won it in 2019 for her illustration of The Lost Words, a book of spells with text by Robert Macfarlane, voted the most beautiful book of 2016 by UK booksellers
Jackie writes about her career:
I went to school in Evesham to Prince Henry’s High School and I remember walking to school past shop fronts above which elegant buildings grew. I used to get told off at school for drawing and dreaming. Now I get paid to do both.
I remember walking in the park by the river, bank voles and weeping willows and bright flashes of kingfishers. I loved the ferry at Hampton where the ferryman pulled you across the river to a land of fields and blackberries, where my dad would walk with me and show me how to find birds’ nests and tales of when he was a boy.
After school I went to college, first in Hereford, then to Exeter where they told me that I would never make it as an illustrator and from there I escaped to Bath Academy, set in a beautiful stately home in Corsham. Here I developed a love for peacocks. These bright birds with their ridiculous tails would fly into our gardens.
After college I moved briefly to London, just off Balham High Road. I thought you had to live in London because that is where most of the publishing houses are. (It didn’t take me long to realize that I was not born to live in a city) It was here that my real education began as I took my portfolio around magazine publishers and book publishers. I worked in magazines and books for seven years, for The New Statesman, New Socialist, Independent, Guardian and Radio Times. I designed cards and calendars for Greenpeace and Amnesty International and fell into children’s books by accident.
I moved to Wales just before starting my first children’s book, Jo’s Storm, by Caroline Pitcher and have lived in the same place ever since, a small cottage held together by spider’s webs. Cats come and go. At the moment I share the house with Tom and Hannah, my son and daughter, Floss and Bella, two odd dogs, and Maurice, Pixie, Elmo, Martha and Max, cats of various colour but mostly ginger.
Things I like: Blue, cats, the smell of honeysuckle, rose petals, birds, words, fires, good books, crayons and paint, the smell of a new book, polar bears, moonlight and moonshadows, stars, sunrise, sunset, dew on the grass, poetry, red, random acts of kindness, long gold grass of late summer, the sound of the wind in the trees, the brush of a butterfly’s wings, the fragility of bone, wasp’s nests, washing on a line blowing in the wind on a sunny winter’s day, the patterns the sea draws on a beach each day and night.
Music I like: Bjork, Stephen Fearing, Sufjan Stevens, Paulo Nutini, Nina Simone, Seth Lakeman, Cara Dillon, Kate Rusby, Karine Polwart, Coco Rosie, The Only Ones, Josh Ritter, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Sidsel Endresen, Ludovico Einaudi, Nick Drake, Yo Yo Ma, Christy Moore, Leon Rosselson, The Waterboys – especially The Whole of the Moon.
Books I like: The Book Thief, anything by Robin Hobb, Peter Pan, Where the Wild Things Are, The Arrivals by Shaun Tan, Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Ropemaker, The Stolen Child and many more.