Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Rene Cloke

Possibly best known as a postcard and greetings card designer Rene Cloke was also an author and illustrator of stories for very young children. She produced illustrations for many annuals, including Uncle Oojah's Big Annual, Blackie's Children's annuals, Tiny Tots, Jack and Jill, Playhour and Harold Hare.

Irene was born in Plymouth, Devon in 1904, the daughter of a bank manager. On leaving school, she began work as an artist for the Edinburgh publishers, W R Chambers, illustrating its educational series The Radiant Way. She soon became well known as a painter of fairy subjects, which were reproduced by a number of publishers, including Medici for their greetings cards and Valentine for their postcards. She also illustrated several books for Enid Blyton. These included the Three Golliwogs, the Amelia Jane books, Brer Rabbit, Mr. Meddle and Mr. Pink Whistle.

Despite her success, was a shy, quiet person, who spent her spare-time walking in the West Country, with her sister, the concert pianist Olive Cloke and her brother, the architect, Douglas Neighbour Cloke. In 1928, she and her sister moved to Wimbledon, where they enjoyed walks on the common, and to Richmond Park. She was a keen cricket fan and regularly attended test matches at The Oval and Lords; she was also keen on crosswords and especially enjoyed those printed in the Daily Telegraph.

During the Second World War, she was employed by the War Office as a tracer, producing maps from photographs for use by the Royal Air Force. After the war, she returned to her fairy illustrations, later gaining an exclusive contract with Award Publications. She continued to work until four months before her death in October 1995. 

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