Lynd Ward was born in Chicago, in 1905, into the house of a Methodist Minister. Forbidden to play games on Sunday, the young Lynd Ward would pass the time reading and looking at the pictures in the few books found in their household.
Two of Ward’s favorites were a bible, illustrated by the great French engraver, Gustave Dore, and a circus story in which the animals came to life. Both books, he remembered, led to his interest in how pictures can communicate without words.
Later, while an art student at Columbia, he served as art editor and contributed numerous drawings to the “Columbia Jester.”
Shortly after graduation he married his college sweetheart and set off on a European tour, ending in Leipzig where the National Academy for the Graphic Arts was located. He enrolled as a special student and spent the next year learning both traditional printmaking techniques and book design.
His time spent at the National Academy, in conjunction with his discovery in a small bookshop of a book done entirely in pictures by the famed Belgian engraver Franz Masereel, would set his course for the remainder of his career. From that time forward, his time was spent in the painstakingly slow medium or wood engraving.
In the months that followed their return to the US, Ward put together a portfolio of his work, partially done in Leipzig, which told an entire story without words. Published by the Plimpton Press in 1929, GOD’S MAN was highly successful, encouraging Ward to create three more “books without words” and to use the medium to illustrate children’s books.
In 1930 his illustrations graced the Newbery Winner, THE CAT WHO WENT TO HEAVEN, by Elizabeth Coatsworth, and in 1953 he won the prestigious Caldecott Award for THE BIGGEST BEAR. In 1950 and 1973 Ward received the Caldecott Honor Award for his woodcut illustrations to AMERICA’S ETHAN ALLEN and THE SILVER PONY.