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Hodges, Cyril Walter

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Cyril Walter Hodges was an English artist and writer best known for illustrating children's books and for helping recreate Elizabethan theatre. He won the annual Greenaway Medal for British children's book illustration in 1964. He was born in Beckenham, Kent, the son of Cyril Hodges, "a leading figure in advertising and copyrighting". He was educated at Dulwich College and Goldsmiths' College, Hodges fell in love with and married Greta Becker, a ballet dancer, in 1936. They remained married until she died in 1999. Hodges spent most of his career as a freelance illustrator. For many years he did line drawings for the Radio Times. Among the writers for children with whom he collaborated as an illustrator were Ian Serraillier, Rosemary Sutcliff (The Eagle of the Ninth), Rhoda Power (Redcap Runs Away), and Elizabeth Goudge (The Little White Horse). Hodges designed costumes and scenery for the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool (1928–30) and for the Mermaid Theatre and St. George's Hall, London in the 1950s. His love of theatre led to him becoming an authority on the construction of the Globe and other theatres of Shakespeare's time. From 1935 to 1999 he both wrote and illustrated five books about theatre in that time. He had thirty years experience in theatre practice and scholarship before doing “Shakespeare's Theatre” for children, published by Oxford University Press in 1964. For that he won the annual Kate Greenaway Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book illustration by a British subject. “Shakespeare's Theatre” illustrates and describes "Shakespeare's famous and now rebuilt Globe Theatre". Hodges argued in one of his books that "the theatre as an institution is the pre-eminent arrangement whereby human beings work out the models of their own conduct, their morality and aspiration, their ideas of good and evil, and in general those fantasies about themselves and their fellows which, if persisted in, tend to eventually become facts in real life. If this is so, and it would be hard to deny, then the theatre must be seen as a most powerful instrument in the social history of mankind, and its own history must therefore be allowed a corresponding importance." Hodges's Shakespearean expertise led Wayne State University theatre department chair Leonard Leone to invite him to Detroit in the late 1970s and early 1980s to work on Leone's proposed reconstruction of the Globe Theatre on the Detroit River. The city suffered financially after the collapse of the U.S. auto industry and the project fell apart in 1982.
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