Denys Watkins-Pitchford MBE
Denys James Watkins-Pitchford MBE (25 July 1905 – 8 September 1990) was a British naturalist, an illustrator and a children's author under the pseudonym "BB". He won the 1942 Carnegie Medal for British children's books.
Denys was considered to be delicate as a child, and because of this was educated at home, while his younger twin, Roger, was sent away to school. He spent a great deal of time on his own, wandering through the fields, and developed a love of the outdoors, which was to influence his writing. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and drawing; all these things were to influence his writing greatly. At the age of fifteen, he left home and went to study at the Northampton School of Art. He won several prizes while there, but was irked by the dry, academic approach, and longed to be able to draw from life.
While at the Northampton School of Art, Watkins-Pitchford won a travelling scholarship to Paris. He was later to say that he could not remember how long he had spent in Paris, but Quinn suggests that it was probably about three months. He worked at a studio in Montparnasse, and attended drawing classes. It is unknown exactly where he studied. In the autumn of 1924, he entered the Royal College of Art in London. In 1930 he became an assistant art master at Rugby School where he remained for seventeen years. While at Rugby School he began contributing regularly to the Shooting Times and started his careers as an author and an illustrator. He wrote under the nom de plume of '"BB"', a name based on the size of lead shot he used to shoot geese, but he maintained the use of his real name as that of the illustrator in all his books. He later illustrated books by other writers, and sold his own paintings locally.
Watkins-Pitchford married in 1939, and had two children, Robin, who died at the age of seven from Bright's Disease, and Angela. Tragedy entered his life a second time in 1974, when his wife, Cecily, became unwell after working in the garden while a farmer was spraying his fields at the other side of the hedge. She died a few weeks later. By the late 1980s, Watkins-Pitchford needed regular dialysis treatment. He was awarded an honorary MA by Leicester University in 1986, and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1990. He collapsed suddenly in September of that year, and died while under anaesthetic in the operating theatre.
"The wonder of the world, the beauty & the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights & shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts."