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The Riddell

Project Type:

Wynkyn de Worde Society

During 2023, I have the honour of being Chair of the Wynkyn de Worde Society.

The Society, founded in 1957, and named after the first printer to set up shop on Fleet Street, is dedicated to ‘excellence in all aspects of printing and the various stages of its creation, production, finishing and dissemination’. The Chair picks five or six speakers to come and speak to members and their guests at luncheon and evening events each year.

For March’s evening event at The Art Worker’s Guild, the unfeasibly talented illustrator, author, and political cartoonist Chris Riddell kindly agreed to come and speak to us. He’s won a heap of major awards, including the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal – awarded for illustration in books for children – an unprecedented three times. He was the 2015-2017 Children’s Laureate and in 2019 was awarded the OBE by the Queen for his services to children’s literature.

One of the Society’s traditions is to have a keepsake for each event – a printed item to take away. For Chris’s talk I decided to create a publication that documented a small selection of his favourite cartoons from his 28 years at the Observer. A newspaper was the perfect format.


A packed audience was enthralled and entertained as Chris recounted his journey to becoming an illustrator. From being a young boy drawing for wine gums in his local church, to being taught by Raymond Briggs at Brighton Polytechnic – who described his work as “marvellous, marvellous, marvellous”. From there Riddell moved to London, working at the Economist as their in-house illustrator, before moving on to the Sunday Correspondent, the Independent, and then in 1995 the Observer.

During his humorous and entertaining talk, Riddell drew scenes from his life, using a visualiser (a sort of overhead projector) to show his beautiful illustrations.


One member described the evening as “Ding dong, bang on, a cracking evening”.

If you’d like a flavour of the evening, listen to Chris on Desert Island Discs, from March 2020.