Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Keeping, Charles

(1924-1988) UK artist, illustrator and writer, active from 1953, when he began a four-year stint doing a daily cartoon for the London Daily Herald; his first book Illustrations appeared the same year, but not until his work for Rosemary Sutcliff's The Silver Branch (1957) did he begin to become known for his radical approach. Henceforth CK consistently treated illustration as a form of co-creation, generating a pattern of images (in his unmistakable, superbly draughted, powerfully and "primitively" emotional style) that presented its own version of the textual tale. Many of the dozen or so he illustrated dealt with Sutcliff historical subjects, but in her Beowulf (1961; vt Dragon Slayer 1966) he tellingly prefigured his version of Kevin Crossley-Holland's Beowulf (1984), in which he envisaged Grendel (see Beowulf) as a creature with as much autonomy, and as ruthlessly judged by humans, as Caliban. CK illustrated other Crossley-Holland tales like The Wildman (1976 chap). His seven collaborations with Henry Treece had similar impact – especially in late tales like The Dream-Time (1967) – and the savage strokes of his representation of Viking life and Myth have influenced subsequent writers and illustrators of Nordic Fantasy. His later illustrations for a complete edition of Charles Dickens (1981-1988) made London appear at times as though it, too, loomed out of the mists of time, bearing monsters and prodigies to our view; The Christmas Books (omni 1988) is of direct fantasy interest.

Further work of interest includes illustrations for H Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines (1961), Kenneth Grahame's The Golden Age, and Dream Days (1961), Mollie Hunter's The Kelpie's Pearls (1964) and other titles, Alan Garner's Elidor (1965) and other titles, Celtic Folk and Fairy Tales (anth 1966) ed Eric Protter and Nancy Protter, Nicholas Stuart Gray's Mainly in Moonlight (1967) and other titles, Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1967) and other titles, Aldous Huxley's Time Must Have a Stop (1968), The God Beneath the Sea (1970) by Edward Blishen (1920-1996) and Leon Garfield and other titles by these two, The Ghost Stories of M.R. James (coll 1973) (see M R James) ed Nigel Kneale, Helen Hoke's Weirdies (anth 1973) and other titles, P L Travers's About the Sleeping Beauty (coll/anth 1975 US), The Mermaid's Revenge (1979) by Forbes Stuart, Rudyard Kipling's The Beginning of the Armadilloes (coll 1982) and other titles, Neil Philip's The Tale of Sir Gawain (1987), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1988) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1988).

Of CK's own picture books, Charley, Charlotte and the Golden Canary (graph 1967) and Alfie and the Ferry Boat (graph 1968; vt Alfie Finds the Other Side of the World 1968 US) are vivid fantasies of London for younger children. Charles Keeping's Book of Classic Ghost Stories (anth 1986) and Charles Keeping's Classic Tales of the Macabre (anth 1987) are strong selections. [JC]

Charles William James Keeping


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.