A Short Autobiography
by Paul Galdone

When I was about fourteen my family and I left Budapest. On arrival in New Jersey I was promptly enrolled in high school. The Hungarian language did not prove very useful in the United States and in an effort to get me over the barrier I had to attend three English classes every day in addition to a biology class. When it came my turn to read from Shakespeareʼs ”Midsummers Night Dream”, I was highly embarrassed. Not only did I have an accent that amused the whole class, but I also failed to understand most of what I was trying to read. In the biology class, however, I felt more successful. It was discovered that I was proficient in the drawing of grasshoppers I was soon drawing them for all the other pupils.

Shortly afterward, we moved to New York City. To help support my family in the struggle to get started, I worked for the day as a busboy, electrician’s helper on unfinished skyscrapers, fur-dyer, and so on. At night I attended art schools: The Art Students League and The New York School of Industrial Design. Eventually, four years of working in the Art Department of Doubleday & Company determined my direction. I loved everything in the world of book production; as well as the people and the challenges, there I had a chance to design my first book jacket. That led into free-lancing.

I lived in the Greenwich Village section of New York City, and while I free-lanced and built up a busy career in book jacket designing, I kept up my interest in the fine arts by drawing and painting and by long sketching vacations in Vermont.

After four years spent in the US Army Engineer Corps during World War ll during which I contributed to Yank Magazine in my spare time, I settled down in Rockland County, New York — with my wife and, eventually, two children and assorted animals. There I resumed free-lancing, leaning more and more toward illustrating children’s books.

I particularly enjoy adapting and making picture books of favorite old tales. I find this most satisfying and I like to fancy myself in such good company as Caldecott, Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane, Doré — real inspirations and a constant challenge.