Fringe Box



Parke’s People No.20. Ernest Howard Shepard

Published on: 31 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 31 Mar, 2013

In the latest of an occasional series about people who have a connection with Guildford in one way or another, Bernard Parke recalls, in his whimsical ‘old school’ style, Ernest Howard Shepard, best known for his illustrations in the Winnie-the-Pooh books.

E H Shepherd (1879-1976).

E H Shepard (1879-1976).

I was interested in reading the connection in David Rose’s account of Guildford’s wartime air-raid shelters with the artist of the first book illustrations many of us will recall from our early childhood days.

He was of course, Ernest Howard Shepard (1879-1976), the illustrator of A A Milne’s Winnie -the-Pooh books, and many other titles besides.

This was at a time when children were allowed to enjoy their childhood and not dragged into the dubious influences that are fed to them these days.

Ernest Shepard was not born here but he spent 50 years of his life in Guildford up until his death in 1976. He grew up in in St John’s Wood, London, before moving to Hammersmith following the death of his mother.

His love of drawing was no doubt influenced by his grandfather, the water-colour artist, William Lee RA.

School days were spent at St Paul’s from where he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools.

At the out break of the First World War he enlisted in the Royal Artillery and served with distinction, which led to him being awarded the Military Cross, after being promoted to the rank of major.

The privations of this awful struggle were somewhat relieved by his light-hearted comments sent to Punch magazine from which after his demob he was invited to join the editorial staff. It was while working there that he eventually met the writer A A Milne.


Classic illustration by E H Shepherd.

Classic illustration by E H Shepard.

The rest is now perhaps history and well documented. Shepard was an illustrator of more than 50 children’s books that reflected the life of our upper-middle classes between the two wars, a life which now has now gone forever.

During the Second World War, Shepard was second in command of “B” Company of the Guildford Home Guard, and was responsible for the Merrow and the downs area in his adopted town of Guildford. It was here at One Tree Hill that he made his home.

His affection for Guildford was perhaps shown by donating his personal papers to the University of Surrey, which were received in 1974 by the then vice-chancellor.

These papers are now available to research students in the university’s library. A fitting memorial to a man that bought so much pleasure to generations of young people.

Surrey Home Guard photo featuring an number of officers. Is E H Shepherd pictured along them? Picture David Rose Collection.

Surrey Home Guard photo featuring an number of officers. Is E H Shepard pictured along them? Picture David Rose Collection.

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Responses to Parke’s People No.20. Ernest Howard Shepard

  1. Jan Welsman Reply

    January 9, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    I believe from photos I have of my grand-dad in Merrow Home Guard and searching out E H Shepard photos around that time that I have found him.

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