(1862–1940), English children's illustrator and writer, whose work is a paradigm of expression and humor. Born in Birkenhead, England, son of a rope manufacturer, Leonard Leslie Brooke was educated at Birkenhead School. Oxford, the expected next step, proved impossible because of his partial deafness from an illness, leaving him happily free to pursue a prize-winning path at the Royal Academy Art School. Brooke's blissful marriage to Sybil, daughter of the Reverend Stopford Brooke, and family life were, his son claimed, “part of the secret of his tenderness in the drawing of children.” Brooke admired Tenniel, thus gravitating naturally into black-and-white drawings. He achieved renown in The Nursery Rhyme Book (1897), edited by Andrew Lang, and with the quintessentially coy Pussy Cat and memorably yearning Dong with a Luminous Nose in Edward Lear's Nonsense Songs (1900), published by Warne. As Warne's star artist, Brooke's opinion was sought on an unsolicited manuscript, The Tale of Peter Rabbit; Brooke unhesitatingly advised publication. Brooke's illustrations are rife with jokes. In The Three Bears (1905), Mother Bear dotingly brushes a protesting Little Bear; a text proclaims, “Thyme is Honey—Save it”; and the family tree's motto is “Bear and Forbear.”
From The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature in Oxford Reference.