Thursday, 24 January 2013

Guest Post: Ophelia Redpath

Ophelia Redpath's beautiful new picture book, The Lemur's Tale, publishes with us January 2013. Ophelia has written us a guest post all about her inspiration for the book and her fantastic family history!
My new picture book, The Lemur’s Tale, has been a long time in the making. I’m a very slow worker, and am always amazed when I finish anything!

Now I’m smiling, knowing that my ring-tailed lemur, Earl Grey, has finally scurried into the shops. He is happy to wear a dust-jacket and bed down onto a shelf for a while. But he’s getting curious about his next leap. Perhaps he’ll find himself in a school, or a hospital, or a library. Or, best of all, by a child’s bed, slowly getting to know his reader, sharing dreams of the world he belonged to……..

The inspirations behind this book are fourfold: There is David Attenborough. There’s my grandfather. There’s my grandmother. And there’s my daughter, Sally.

As did many British children of the 70s and 80s, I grew up watching Attenborough’s Wildlife on One. When I was about nine, lemurs sprang nimbly onto the screen. I immediately fell for their stripes, their poise, the way they communicated, and their lush, leafy neighbourhood. At one stage I think I wanted to be a lemur. But growing a tail was tricky, and I had homework to do, so I grew upwards and went to boarding school instead.

My grandfather, Leonard Campbell Taylor, was an artist, brought up in the Victorian era. Known as “The English Vermeer”, he painted scenes of intimate moments staged in structured interiors. All his works involve an interplay of light and shade, and mark out the intense character in his sitters’ faces.

My Grandmother, Brenda Moore, was a professional artist herself. When I was small, I watched, agog, as she turned water-logged paper into delicately sculptural flowers, glowing with colour. In 1986, at a loose end, and with no career plan, I stayed with her in her old mill which smelled of incense and dried bulrushes. We drew, painted and squiffled ginger wine. Soon, she and I were planning exhibitions, pricing paintings, arguing about titles, framing badly with araldite and a DIY mitring kit, swearing and laughing all day. It was all such fun, so companionable and so free, I simply didn’t realise I’d become a professional painter and would remain one for 25 years. She gave me a faith in creating something out of nothing. I had no obvious plan, no letters after my name and nothing in the bank! Trying to fit this way of life into the world of intermittent recessions and a fickle art trade has been my challenge, but one that I have not regretted, as without it, I wouldn’t have my lemur!

Ophelia feeding the Lemur's - photo by David Johnson of the Royston Weekly
For more pictures, visit our Facebook page:
I started my book four years ago when my daughter, Sally was born. Spending time with her changed my tack on story-making. As soon as she was able to talk, she told me stories. As I told her mine in return, she added to them with great purpose, using very specific and interesting details. I’ve loved them all. Since then I’ve been mulling over what children like to think about; what can weigh on their minds, what makes them laugh, and how story-telling can provide companionship for them through their ups and downs.

During these last few years, there have been many helping hands along the way. Great support from Mum, family, and friends; a wonderful writing class in Cambridge, and piles of magical children’s picture books to inspire me.

I’m delighted David Ford and Brett Brubaker took me on and introduced my work to Templar; and that Templar said “Yes”! I’m deeply grateful to Amelia Edwards, the Art Editor of Art Editors, whose experienced hands I felt so safe in; to Penny Worms, Literary Editor who tended to each word with such loving care – even after bedtime. And to Daniel Devlin, who patiently coaxed my illustrations to settle down and behave themselves on the pages. I feel very fortunate to have worked with such sensitive and knowledgeable people.

Hand-signed and numbered Limited edition prints of illustrations from The Lemur’s Tale are available at Password – littleghost

See more information about my book at My other works – originals, prints and cards are represented at

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