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Interview 13 with Gail E. Haley

Haley, Gail E. (13)
Wright, Christina
Date of Interview: 
Haley, Gail E.; Acrylic painting; Chapbooks; Children’s literature; Folk literature; Illustrations; Interviews (Sound recordings); Oral histories
Gail Haley, an author and illustrator of children’s literature born in Charlotte, N.C., recounts her continuing career as a children’s author. In this thirteenth of sixteen interviews, Ms. Haley recalls her work on Dream Peddler (1993). Ms. Haley describes how she was inspired to write this story while conducting research at the Library of Congress when she came across the story of John Chapman, the legendary peddler of Swaffham, a small town in Norfolk, England, who followed his dream and discovered a fortune in his own backyard. Ms. Haley was intrigued by the peddler’s surname, which she connected with the peddling of chapbooks, works of popular literature illustrated with simple woodcuts. She discusses the history of printing practices and chapbooks, and relates her decision to alter the time period of the story to the 18th century when children’s literature was emerging as a genre. In addition, Ms. Haley recalls the inspirations for her illustrations, which included the works of William Hogarth as well as images from original chapbooks. She also describes the techniques used to create the illustrations, noting friends served as models for characters, the utilization of a light box to transfer sketches onto canvas, and her technique of layering paint on canvas to prevent stretching before painting the final image with acrylic paints. While discussing her illustrations, Ms. Haley highlights her usage of symbols and authentic historical illustrations to produce accurate depictions in order to create an enriched educational experience for children. Other themes in this interview include the importance of dreams, Francelia Butler (a scholar with whom Ms. Haley collaborated on one of her earliest published works), and Ms. Haley’s visit to England to research the town of Swaffham and the old London Bridge.
North Carolina--Blowing Rock; circa 1990s - 2008
Interview Setting: 
Charlotte, N.C.
Interviews with Gail E. Haley
Interview Audio: