‘I love writing for children’: Emma Thompson and Axel Scheffler on their amazing shaggy dog story
The Oscar-winning actor and the Gruffalo illustrator have teamed up to create a tale about a scruffy hound. They discuss corgis, comic books and how their friendship began Axel Scheffler was an unknown illustrator, working largely for Good Housekeeping magazine, when he received a letter in response to a small exhibition of his work. It was from Emma Thompson, a young actor who had begun to attract attention with TV series such as Fortunes of War and Tutti Frutti. Neatly written in fountain pen, it inquired whether he would accept a commission. “Ken Branagh, my chap, runs his own theatre company,” it explained. He was playing Hamlet to her sister Sophie’s Ophelia and she wanted something to commemorate a moment in time. “I have a vague notion of what you charge for your work, which doesn’t seem to me to be enough,” it went on. “I enclose a picture of Ken and Sophie in case it’s of use.” Scheffler still has the letter and has brought it along 34 years later to an interview to mark their first literary collaboration, on a children’s picture book, Jim’s Spectacular Christmas. “That’s amazing,” says Thompson of the letter, which predates her six-year marriage to Branagh and was written from the flat they shared in 1988. Then she trumps it, by announcing that she still has the envelope in which Scheffler sent the two pictures. It was decorated with a picture of Hamlet sitting on a skull “looking really depressed” and it sits framed above a loo in her home to this day. Continue reading...
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