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Our People

David McKee

Artist & Honorary Fellow (2011)

David McKee (1935 - 2022) was born in Devon and studied at Arts University Plymouth in the 1950s. In the early part of his career, McKee regularly drew and sold humorous drawings to magazines and newspapers such as The Times Educational Supplement, Punch and the Reader’s Digest.

David McKee wrote and illustrated over 50 picture books for Andersen Press and penned a number of children’s classics including King Rollo, Mr Benn, Not Now Bernard and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. He sold over 10 million copies of his books around the world, with Elmer the Patchwork Elephant remaining one of the most iconic and widely-read children’s book series of all time, selling over eight million copies since it was first published in 1989.

David wrote and illustrated 29 original Elmer books, which have collectively been translated into more than 60 languages. Meanwhile, Mr Benn started as a children’s picture book in 1967 and later became a BBC TV series.

Born in Tavistock in 1935, David McKee first enrolled with us to study illustration in 1950, when he first began selling one-off cartoons, in particular to the national press. He later returned to Arts University Plymouth in 2011 to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship for his lifetime of achievement.

David McKee passed away, aged 87, after a short illness in 2022.

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