All About the Anholts
Catherine and Laurence Anholt are one of the world’s leading author illustrator teams.
From their studios near Lyme Regis in southwest England, they have created more than 200 children’s books, which are published in 30 languages around the world…
Their books range from the Seriously Silly Stories…
to the Anholt’s Artists books…
the Chimp and Zee books…
And many, many picture books…
The Anholts get asked loads of questions by children and teachers. Here are some of the most helpful and some of the silliest too…
Where can I buy your books?
You can buy books by Catherine and Laurence Anholt here
or if you live in the USA, you can find them here
and of course they are available in all good book stores.
Best of all, get them from your library – then they’re free!
How can I get in touch?
Easy. Send an email to Janet Turner. She would love to hear from you and if it’s important she’ll pass it on straight away.
Where do the Anholts live?
We live in a house with a wild garden on top of a hill, overlooking the sea in Devon, south west England.
It’s an upside-down house. That means the living room and the kitchen are upstairs, and our studios are downstairs.
How many books have you made?
We have made more than 200 books.
Have you ever won any awards?
Yes, our books have won lots of prizes including the Nestlé Smarties Gold Award on two occasions.
Here’s a photo of Laurence receiving the Smarties Prize for the Seriously Silly Stories.
Left to Right: JK Rowling (Harry Potter), Konnie Huq (TV presenter), Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo), Laurence Anholt, Arthur Robins (illustrator).
When did you start writing books?
We made our very first books in 1984 when our children were tiny. Here are our twins, Tom and Maddy when they were little.
Who are your publishers?
We work with dozens of publishers around the world. Our main UK publishers are:
Orchard Books who publish lots of our picture books and the Seriously Silly Stories.
Frances Lincoln Ltd who publish the Anholt’s Artists series.
And we are excited to be working with a brand new publishing house called Nosy Crow
Did you train as artists?
Yes, we both went to Falmouth School of Art, then Catherine took a Master’s Degree at the Royal College of Art in London and Laurence went to the Royal Academy of Art.
Who does the writing and who does the illustrating?
That’s a bit complicated. Laurence does most of the writing and Catherine has illustrated about half of our books. The Anholt’s Artists series are illustrated and written by Laurence and he also writes for other artists like Arthur Robins, who does the Seriously Silly Stories.
What do you think of libraries?
We LOVE libraries! When our kids were small we spent every spare hour in our local library. Did you know that Laurence has been amongst the top 200 most borrowed authors, across all genres, for more than 10 years?
What’s it like working with your partner?
That’s what we’ve always done so we like it. We never argue about work and we get along really well. But we each have our own studio so we can escape when we want to! Here’s Catherine painting in her studio and looking pretty happy.
What languages are your books translated into?
Our books have been translated into more than 30 languages around the world include Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Icelandic and Welsh.
Do you have kids of your own?
Yes, we have three amazing grown up children.
Claire works for the United Nations in New York.
We also have twins called Tom and Maddy.
Tom is a painter in Berlin.
You can visit Tom’s website here…
And you can see him on German TV here.
Maddy is a brilliant actor and she works in London.
You can visit her website here.
Do you have any pets?
We have a cat called Harrods.
He doesn’t have a website.
What are your hobbies?
Laurence is very interested in Buddhism and believes that meditation brings health, happiness and well being.
Both Catherine and Laurence love nature so we walk whenever we can and spend a lot of time in our garden. We also enjoy painting in our studios and most of all we love to travel to lovely places like India, Korea and Indonesia.
When the children were small we used to take them on adventures like riding camels in the Sahara Desert on Christmas Day!
How old are you?
Catherine was born in January 1958 and Laurence was born in August 1959… so you can work it out!
Tell us about your childhood…
Catherine: “I come from an Irish family and I am one of eight brothers and sisters. Our family lived in a community where my father was the potter. Even when I was tiny I loved to draw and paint but I trained originally as a nurse, before finding my true vocation at art school…. and that’s where I met Laurence too. That’s me on the swing in the right with the knobbly knees…”
Laurence: “My father was Dutch and I grew up in Holland. One of my earliest memories is of being taken to the Vincent van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, where I first fell in love with painting. My mother was an English teacher, so I enjoyed reading and writing too. I just love books in all shapes and sizes and I can’t imagine a day without reading. Here’s a picture of me aged 5… do you like my haircut?”
What was your first book?
Our first book was about a little pig called Truffles. (Now sadly porked!) We made it for our baby daughter, Claire when she was poorly one winter in 1984.
Where do you get your ideas?
Most of our ideas came from family life with our own children. We would often note funny things they said and we would say, “that sounds like a children’s book!’
Do you like your job?
Yes, we absolutely love it. How else could you spend your time dreaming up wacky ideas and get paid for it? Besides, we get to travel all over the world and meet lots of young readers like these friends in India…
How long does it take to make a book?
Well, it depends… the Seriously Silly Stories take a few months each but the artist books take about two years because there is so much research and illustration involved. Laurence always travels to the places where the artists lived. Here he is in Vincent’s night café in Arles…
What are the most exciting places you have visited?
Our books have taken us to schools all over the world. We’ve travelled to Indonesia, Singapore and all over Europe.
In the UK we’ve been inside Buckingham Palace and Downing Street on several occasions.
We also went to the launch of the first Harry Potter movie and we got to visit the film set and meet some of the actors.
A few years ago we went to South Korea to launch a stage musical production of Camille and the Sunflowers…
What is BookStart?
BookStart is a UK government funded scheme, which encourages parents to share books with babies from the earliest possible age. Every new parent gets a wonderful free book bag, which includes our Babies Love Books leaflet. The scheme is now going out to lots of other countries.
What is the favourite book you have made?
Catherine: “My favourite book is the one I have just finished, ‘TOOT Goes to Dinosaurland’, because it’s bright, simple and funny.”
Laurence: “My favourite is ‘Camille and the Sunflowers’ which was the first book in the Anholt’s Artists series. It’s about van Gogh who is an artist I love, but it also says important things about tolerance towards people who are different.’
What are your favourite books by other people?
Catherine: “I’ve just read The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch which was wonderful.”
Laurence: “If I had to pick one book it would probably be ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy…
it’s so original and brilliant and I travelled in a canoe to the tiny village in Kerala where the story takes place.”
Are you working on a new book now?
Yes, we always have several new books in progress. Right now Laurence has just completed artwork for the next book in the Anholt’s Artists series and this one will be called, ‘Tell Us A Story, Papa Chagall’.
We have also been working on a new character for young children… he’s a cute rabbit called TOOT. He has his own car with a magic GPS or SatNav, which takes TOOT to all kinds of wonderful places.
Didn’t you have a bookshop?
That’s right. We used to own a bookshop in Lyme Regis called Chimp and Zee, Bookshop by the Sea. It was a wonderful children’s space and we loved it. However it took up so much time that we found we couldn’t write and illustrate too. We sold the shop a few years ago but sadly it isn’t a bookshop any longer.
What colour are your pyjamas?
Catherine: “My favourite pair is blue with little clouds all over them!”
Laurence: “On Mondays I wear a blue top with red bottoms. On Tuesdays I wear a red top with blue bottoms. On Wednesdays I wear blue pyjamas with a green woolly hat. On Thursdays I wear red pyjamas with a green woolly hat. On Fridays I wear Catherine’s pyjamas with clouds on and at the weekend I don’t wear anything except a woolly hat.”
Where can I get more information about Catherine and Laurence Anholt?
You can get lots more information here