Hilary Knight, son of artist-writers Clayton Knight and Katharine Sturges, was born in Hempstead, Long Island and grew up in the town of Roslyn. When he was six the family moved to Manhattan where he has lived ever since. In the past twenty years he has maintained an apartment in the center of New York City which doubles as his studio and houses his collection of books, programs, and recordings of theatre and film music. His first published work appeared in Mademoiselle Magazine in 1952, followed by drawings in House and Garden, Good Housekeeping, and Gourmet magazines.
Mr. Knight has illustrated over fifty books, nine of which he also wrote. Besides books, his work has included note and greeting cards, children's fashion advertisings, illustrations for Cricket magazine, record album covers and posters for the Broadway musicals Half A Sixpence, Hallelujah Baby!, No, No Nanette, Irene, and Gypsy.
At 90, Hilary Knight Launches Two Book Projects with Macmillan
Sally Lodge for Publishers Weekly, November 1, 2016
Hilary Knight, the storied illustrator of Kay Thompson’s Eloise and its sequels, celebrated his 90th birthday on November 1, along with new book deals with two Macmillan imprints. Michael Flamini, executive editor of St. Martin’s Press, has bought world English rights to Hilary Knight: Drawn from Life, an illustrated memoir scheduled for spring 2018. Simultaneously, Jon Yaged, president of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, has acquired world English rights to Olive & Oliver: The Formative Years, a graphic novel about eccentric twins separated at birth. Written by Knight’s twin nieces, Kitty and Lily Knight, and illustrated by their uncle, this 2019 Roaring Brook title will be edited by Senior VP and Publishing Director Simon Boughton. Brenda Bowen of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates brokered both deals.
Hilary Knight’s memoir, which is aimed at adult readers, will trace his life from childhood through his years as an artist living in Manhattan and bringing Eloise to life, to the present day. The autobiography will be illustrated with photographs and new and existing art by Knight, including pieces he created for the theater and never-before-published images.
The book, Knight explained, has been long in the making. “I’ve been working on this for years, in fact,” he said. “It is a real history of my own life, of course, but it’s also the story of my parents, who were both highly accomplished artists. From my early years I was surrounded by art and artists – that’s all I saw – and I began drawing when I was very young. I remember thinking that creating art was the only thing that people did for a living!”
His memoir’s title, Hilary Knight: Drawn from Life, has double appeal for Knight. “When we were trying to come up with a title, I’d originally called it A Family Tree, thinking of all the things in my life connecting, but that didn’t really work,” he said. “So I came up with the brilliant idea, Drawn from Life, and I checked the title on Amazon. The first thing that popped up was Ernest Shepard’s autobiography – and I was delighted! He was a tremendous influence on my own work, and on Eloise. So that became my title, too – with a great big bow to Ernest.”