Sunday 22 January 2012


BRIDGES How They Were Built was published by Oxford University Press in 1958. My copy is the 1965 edition , which arrived yesterday. Written by John Stewart Murphy , it's illustrated by my favourite british illustrator Charles Keeping. His name might be familiar to those who grew up in the 1960's and 70's. Primarily he was a book illustrator and has a formidable bibliography of works from historical illustrations through to childrens book art.

As the decades passed he constantly evolved his art in brilliant ways but always with strong drawing as the foundation. BRIDGES is from very early in his career and the style employed is one of my favourites . The textured penwork builds up the images like pieces of a jigsaw both working literally and structurally. Also what's nice is his decorative approach to each page - the art weaving around the text in a pleasing manner. Keeping was one of the very first to do this for picture books - this one being aimed squarely at 1950's boys.

Following are just a few scans from the book. Keeping illustrated other books in this series into the late 1960's.


  1. stunning! not got this one but have WELLS, DAMS and ROADS. i adore EVERYTHING he did, everything, but this is a fave period for me.

    picked up 3 of his books on friday in a charity sale, far away in a country pub(!), old library copies but immaculate condition.

    i've a coupla keeping doubles, am saying just in case you ever wanna do any swaps.

  2. I came to Keeping very late but have a modest collection in progress. Interested in your doubles though I have none to trade back. My favourite illustrated book of his is The Horned Helmet ( written by the great Henry Treece) which I'd love to adapt into a comic one day...