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Hilary Knight Papers

Identifier: 1992-0047

Scope and Contents

This collection contains preliminary and finished artwork, manuscripts, galleys, proofs, and dummies pertaining to thirty of the illustrator's published books and numerous published articles. This collection also includes many signed and dated explanatory notes from Mr. Knight, added to the collection before it was donated to the University of Connecticut in 2001.


  • 1956-2001


The collection is open and available for research.

Restrictions on Use and Copyright Information

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.


Hilary Knight was born November 1, 1926 in Hempstead, Long Island. His mother, Katherine Sturges, was a successful commercial and fashion illustrator, known for her graceful Oriental-style artwork. His father, Clayton Knight, was a popular aviation book illustrator. Both parents were extremely influential in Mr. Knight’s decision to pursue a career in illustration, and his mother’s love of traditional Asian art is often exhibited in Mr. Knight’s own artwork. At the age of sixteen, he enrolled in the Art Students League in New York City to study art. While there, he gained a reputation as a high-spirited, somewhat mischievous student. In 1944, at the age of eighteen, Mr. Knight dropped out of school and joined the United States Navy, where he served as a ship painter for eighteen months during the height of World War II. Following his time in the Navy, Mr. Knight worked short stints as a set designer and magazine illustrator, where he became known for his whimsical black line style of drawing. Mr. Knight began illustrating children’s books for the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Series by Betty MacDonald in the 1940s, but a fateful meeting with singer Kay Thompson at the Plaza Hotel in New York really launched Mr. Knight’s career as a children’s book illustrator. Following the publication of Eloise in 1955, Mr. Knight went on to illustrate over fifty books and numerous magazine articles for children.

Mr. Knight’s illustrations are known for their whimsical energy, fresh color, and pixie-ish characters. His technique begins with “working sketches”, using cut-out sections of text glued to double-sided Strathmore boards, which then become the actual finished artwork. He uses a combination of watercolor, pencil and pen to make most of his illustrations.


17.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Hilary Knight is a New York-based illustrator for children's books and magazines. This collection contains preliminary and finished artwork, manuscripts, galleys, proofs, and dummies pertaining to 30 of the illustrator's published books and numerous published articles.


Series I : Correspondence and Notes (undated, 1960-2001)

Series II : Published Books Illustrated by Hilary Knight (1956-2000)

Series III : Published Articles Illustrated by Hilary Knight (1973-1997)

Series IV : Unpublished Works (undated)

Series V : Promotional Materials (1976-1995)

Custodial History

Donated to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center by Hilary Knight in 2001.

Related Material

Archives & Special Collections has a substantial collection of materials pertaining to children's literature and associated artwork. For detailed information on these collections please contact the curator or ask at the Reading Room desk.


Evans, Dilys. "Hilary Knight, A Natural Born Rascal" in Show & Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children's Book Illustration. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2008: p. 10-21

"Meet the Authors: Hilary Knight," Barnes and Noble,(November 11, 2011)
Hilary Knight Papers
Archives & Special Collections staff
2011 December
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US