Eric Winter
Eric Winter

Eric Winter was born in Edmonton. He had an elder brother Francis John and a younger sister Irene Marion.

He was educated at Latimer Public School, which is where he first became interested in Art. He and Francis both went on to study at Hornsby Art School where Eric began to experiment in fine art, pen and ink and charcoal drawings, but painted in both oil and watercolour.

Painting in watercolour became his first love and he always dreamed of making a living through commissions.

The war, however, prevented him from establishing this career as he was enlisted into the Army Tank Core. Although he did not see active service abroad, the post-war era became a difficult period for artists generally. In order to support a growing family, he needed to go in search of commercial work.

For the next decade or so it was both feast and famine. He did, though, come to the attention of the Reverend Chad Varrer who at that time was working as a children’s comic scriptwriter and visualiser for The Girl and Eagle Publications as well as dramatising the lives of famous religious figures on the back cover of these publications. Eric was commissioned as the Illustrator for these religious scripts and over the next few years he collaborated with Chad Varrer on the stories of St Francis, St Bridget, St George and “The Story of Moses”. In the nineteen fifties he also illustrated various articles in both Woman and Woman’s Own periodicals and provided the illustrations for a number of children’s books published by Blackie and Sons.

He continued to illustrate a variety of short stories and serials for Girl throughout the fifties and he illustrated a fully coloured-plated book by the author Augustus Muir entitled “The Story of Jesus for Young People” published by Oldham Press.

During this period he worked exclusively from his home in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, converting a room to act as his studio He worked in the day to maximise the best of the daylight but often he could be found working late into the night directly under the heat and intensity of 400 watts of electric light in order to meet specific publishing guidelines.

It was from this studio that he designed the famous logo of the Abbey National Building Society of two people sheltering under a roof-shaped umbrella. This image was inspired by a house opposite his studio which, unusually, had a four-sided roof.

It was this iconic design that became the Company Logo for Abbey National for over fifty years, until the Company undertook a major rebranding exercise in 2003.

In the early 1960’s Eric was introduced to Douglas Keen who was a Director of Wills &Hepworth – owners and publishers of Ladybird Books. He became a regular and popular contributor to Ladybird books for a number of years as the Artist of many of the “Well Loved Tales” series, his titles featured strongly in the childhood of many avid readers. He illustrated over a dozen titles in this series including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beanstalk, Dick Whittington, Rumplestiltskin, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzal and Snow White and the Severn Dwarfs amongst others.

Eric continued his association with Ladybird after this series was complete, illustrating a number of other titles up to the time of his death, in 1981.

His name appeared in the “Artists Whose Who” between 1960 and 1970 and is widely appreciated for an oil painting commissioned by the Wool Secretariat in London entitled the “Spinning Jenny”.

His Brother Francis, who died in 1996, was also very accomplished in the medium of watercolour and became the Painting Principal at Hornsey Art School. He was also recognised as one of the foremost wood-engravers in the country.

Several of Eric’s watercolours were exhibited in the Royal Academy and one particular painting he was asked to bequeath to the Nation but he decided to present it to his wife, Joan, as a wedding present instead. This painting is still cherished and presently has pride of place in his son’s family home.