Norman Bridwell reflects on his career writing Clifford the Big Red Dog, a beloved children's character for more than 50 years now.
Clifford has been a big part of my life for more than fifty years now, and I am so pleased to be able to share him with you.
When I was a child, I spent much of my free time drawing imaginary people in imaginary scenes. I remember walking to and from school making up these stories. At the end of the day, I’d illustrate them on a scrap paper my father had brought home from work for me.
After I finished high school, I dreamed of doing cartoon-style illustrations for magazines and newspapers. My mother suggested that I go to art school, and I took her advice. While I was there, I found that people enjoyed my funny illustrations and stories filled with wordplay.
In 1962, my wife thought I should try to illustrate children’s books. I showed my paintings to several publishers, but no one was interested. I was very disappointed, but there was a ray of hope! One editor told me to try writing a story based on my painting of a little girl with a very big dog. I was so excited that I wrote the story in just three days.
When my story was bought by Scholastic and published in 1963, I was shocked. I had not expected Clifford the big red dog to be published. Thanks to Scholastic, and some very wonderful editors, the Clifford books were born... and my life changed completely.
Because of Clifford, I have traveled all over the world. The Clifford books themselves have taken quite a journey, too. They’ve delighted children as far away as Siberia. I know because I’ve gotten letters from children who live there.
Creating Clifford has also given me the opportunity to meet incredible people like the President and First Lady of the United States, movie actors, newspeople, and famous authors and artists that I admire.
But most wonderful of all, Clifford has brought me into the lives of many children. I am very lucky. I love kids, and I love to make them laugh – and I hope whether you’re a kid or a grown-up, that’s just what Clifford will make you do.