Holling Clancy Holling

Holling Clancy Holling

1900 - 1973

Born Holling Allison Clancy in Holling Corners, Michigan, on land that generations of his family had farmed, Holling spent many hours as a young boy roaming the outdoors and drawing pictures of the natural world. Holling, whose father was a school superintendent and whose mother was an instructor of elocution and piano (it was her maiden name, Holling, that he had been given as his first name), knew from a very young age what he was called to do: to write and illustrate books for children about what he loved most—the natural world.

After high school, Holling attended the Art Institute of Chicago, graduating in 1923. Until his senior year, he worked mostly in black and white. A stay at the artists' colony in Taos, New Mexico, transformed his art: he was swept off his feet by the pallet of the Southwest, its warm tones and sunlit hues suffusing his work from then on. It was here at art school that his name evolved to 'Holling Clancy Holling.' The curator of the Leslie, Michigan, historical museum writes, "While attending the Art Institute of Chicago, he used Holling as his signature and became known as Mr. Holling, except by those that knew him well. Another contributing factor was that there were ample Clancy cousins to carry on the name—his father was one of 12 children—unlike the surname Holling that had come to an end." Holling made the name change legal in 1925 when he married fellow art student Lucille Webster, who herself was a talented illustrator and artist. The couple would collaborate on many future projects, including several books. The hoped-for future Holling children, however, never arrived.

Holling's passion for nature as a lifelong outdoorsman and his experiences at a wide variety of jobs—farmer, woodworker, sailor on an ore boat in the Great Lakes, illustrator for advertisements, books, and later at Walt Disney, taxidermist at the Field Institute of Chicago, student of anthropology, art instructor—all contribute to the authenticity and uniqueness of his books. They show the sort of intimate familiarity with their subjects that can only be gathered through a lifetime of careful observation and study, and years of hands-on hard work.

Of all his stories, his most well known is likely Paddle-to-the-Sea, one of 1942's Caldecott Honor books, which was later made into an Oscar nominated short film. Two of his other books, Seabird and Minn of the Mississippi, were Newberry Honor books in 1949 and 1952, respectively.

His and Lucille's illustrations—vivid, saturated, and compelling—accompanied by their adventurous tales, cannot help but captivate the reader, young and old alike.

Johanna Bittle

Other Titles

The following titles were not added to the site at this time:

  • The Rollaway Twins and Their Famous Flight: A Complete News-Reel (1927)