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Robert E Barry Mid century American Illustrator

January 17, 2014
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Robert Everett Barry was born on October 7, 1931, the son of William and Emma (Willis) Barry of Newport, RI. (Rhode Island). A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, author and illustrator Robert was a beloved and most modest man-about-town who loved libraries and often shared his favorite articles, stories, and drawings with lucky librarians.  One of his earlier books, Faint George, was selected by the New York Times as one of the Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year in 1957. Sadly it’s been difficult to find many illustrations from most of his more well known titles and the majority of images in this post come from four books he illustrated for the United Church Press in 1961, hence the slight religious slant to some of them.
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Throughout his career as a writer, illustrator, and teacher, Mr. Barry lived in Germany, Switzerland, and the Caribbean.  He taught in the design department at the University of Massachusetts- Dartmouth.  He lived in Newport for many years and was a longtime member of the Redwood Library and Athenaeum.
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Some of Robert’s titles include :-Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree, Snowman’s Secret, Next Please, Ramon and the Pirate Gull, Just Pepper, Life of Maria Montessori, Boo, The Musical Palm Tree and This is the Story of Faint George Who Wanted to be a Knight.
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In the early 1960s, after residing in Europe and Puerto Rico, Robert returned to Newport.  He received a Master of Arts degree in teaching from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1967 and began teaching at the college level. After two years teaching at Averett College in Danville, Virginia and Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas, in 1969 he became a member of the faculty at Southeastern Massachusetts University (now the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) until he retired and was designated Professor Emeritus.  For many years, he also ran a holiday card company known as Sportcards, which marketed greeting cards he designed for golf, tennis and skiing enthusiasts.

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For many years he was associated with Pava Prints, a design and printmaking studio in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which was founded by his Rhode Island School of Design classmate, Lohr Gonzalez. This is one of the calendars he designed whilst at the company.Fishinkblog 7033 Robert E Barry 14

Over the years, he received a number of awards for his work in graphic design and in the field of children’s books, which he both wrote and illustrated.  He is perhaps best remembered as the author-illustrator of Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree. It was read at Christmastime on the children’s television show “Captain Kangaroo,” and was later published in many different languages around the world and turned into a holiday special by The Muppets.  The book was originally published in 1963 by Doubleday.  In 2000, Doubleday requested new colour illustrations and published a fresh edition of the book.  It became a New York Times bestseller.

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I found these images of covers for a couple of Robert’s books and some pages from ‘Next Please’ featuring a very enthusiastic barber who doesn’t appear to care what shape or size his customers come in.

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Sadly Robert E. Barry,  passed away in 2012, but I’m sure his wonderful illustrations will be loved for a long time to come. Many thanks to Mallory from My Vintage Book Collection in Blog Form for initially posting the United Church Press illustrations which, in turn, introduced me to Robert’s work.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2014 8:08 pm

    Wonderful stuff. Love the pattern on the dad’s chair.

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