Charles Keeping was born in Lambeth, South London. This childhood background of markets and docks influenced much of his work. At fourteen he became an apprentice in the printing trade before working as an engineer. Later he served in the Royal Navy. On leaving the Navy he changed careers yet again and worked for a while as a rent collector before starting on a three year course at the Regent Street Polytechnic studying drawing, etching, and lithography. (He later took up a teaching position here).
At his death in 1988 he was one of the most revered and respected illustrators of the last twenty years. 'Technically in a class of his own, he brought insights into his subject matter that were unique because of the man he was.' (Books For Keeps).
Charles Keeping's style was bold, yet sensitive - often disturbing - and highly individual. As Brian Alderson wrote of him in the article in The Times: '...he has brought into his pictures a style of draughtsmansnip and use of colour for which there are few precedents.'
Charles Keeping had his work exhibited all over the world and throughout his career illustrated over 100 books. He received many awards, including the 1967 Kate Greenaway Medal for his picture book Charley, Charlotte and the Golden Canary, and the 1981 Kate Greenaway Medal for The Highwayman.
His wife now runs an exhibition of his work at their home in Bromley, Kent.