Peter Warner, the superb illustrator of what he always called The Moon Cottage Cat books, died early this morning following a short illness, which he faced with great courage.

Peter was a man who embraced life with total relish and lived it with brio and both music and art coursed through his blood stream.

Those of us left behind are much the poorer for no longer having this vivacious man who knew how to live among us. See his own entry under The Illustrator in the menu.

Peter Warner (1/3/1939-22/9/2007)

Peter Warner, the talented artist, illustrator and musician, died on Saturday 22nd September after a short illness. He is pictured here with his cats Django and Blue.

His most recent publishing projects have been in collaboration with books written by Marilyn Edwards about her life with her cats, The Cats of Moon Cottage. More Cat Tales from Moon Cottage, The Cats on Hutton Roof and The Coach House Cats published by Hodder & Stoughton and about to appear in paperback this October.

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He has illustrated over fifty children's and wildlife books, among them five major books on domestic and wild cats, notably The Book of the Cat and Perfect Cats, of which he is also the author.

He has also designed many internationally well-known advertising and product icons, such as Whiskas and Friskies cats, and Hush Puppies dogs. As a painter he specialises in animal and human portraits, wildlife and landscape. He complemented his creative artistic activities with clarinet playing, in orchestras and chamber groups, and as soloist.

His brother David Warner writes: “Peter Warner was born on 1st March 1939 at Colliers Wood, London. His father, Horace Leonard Warner, was a skilled piano restorer who continued the family business in Streatham, South London following a line of four generations of piano restorers. His mother, Queenie Rosalind was artistic and Peter has credited her with nurturing his creative interests. Both parents encouraged family travel in England and Europe and stimulated his awareness in art, music and craftsmanship.

Peter’s childhood was spent during the war years in East Mitcham until June 1944 when heavy bombing in the area killed his maternal grandfather and destroyed the hearing of baby brother David and forced the family to evacuate to the Sussex countryside and spent the rest of the summer in a tent (may explain why Peter appears to be more comfortable sleeping on a futon than in a proper bed!)!

Growing up by Mitcham Common kindled his interest in wildlife which expanded when he moved to Tatsfield on the North Downs. Peter was educated at the following establishments: Pollards Hill Primary Scholl, Caterham School 1950 – 1956, Wimbledon School of Art (National Diploma in Design in Painting) 1956 – 1960, Royal Academy Schools (Cert RAS in painting) 1960 – 1963, Croydon College of Art (Intensive printmaking course diploma) 1974 – 1975.

He won scholarships to Caterham, Wimbledon and Royal Academy Schools as well as many awards.

He did not originally intend to be an illustrator but on completing his studies was persuaded by a girlfriend, whose father was a director with Hamish Hamilton, to illustrate some childrens books. From there his career developed over the years with commissions from as far afield as France and Japan.

I suppose these are the “bear bones” of Peters life but as you, I and countless other people know there is so so so much more to him! His love of his cats, dogs (and goat which helped to keep grass down!), his friends, family, his cars (particularly his cherished trio of Austin sevens!), his food, his drink (!), his table tennis and skiing, his clarinet and sheer talent for and love of music from classical to jazz. I don’t need to tell you how passionate Pete was about so many things.”

Peter Warner himself said: The Cats of Moon Cottage, the first collaboration between Marilyn and myself, has become a bestseller since its publication in September 2003. This is in no small part due to an immediate rapport between us, and recognising this successful association, in the great English tradition of author/illustrator partnerships, Hodder & Stoughton commissioned three more books to make a quartet.

I felt immediate affinity with The Cats of Moon Cottage because Marilyn articulates with great sensitivity intricate feline relationships that I recognise from years of being possessed by, and studying, some wonderful cats in my life. My two cats Django and Blue had, fortuitously, many comparable characteristics to Septi and Otto in the book, and stood - and sat and purred - for well over a hundred spontaneous pencil drawings. Such feline essence can only be captured at the drop of a hat, so paper and pencils waited in strategic positions all over studio and house! Pencil marks made this way in direct response to a moving subject have a fluency, vitality and integrity almost impossible to achieve otherwise.

Marilyn Edwards writes: Peter Warner was an extraordinary man as well as a talented artist (not just of cats, his human life studies were powerful) and it was an honour and pleasure to know him. He was an artist of great talent who in my opinion could draw cats from life study like no other and over the course of the publication of the four cat books he and I became fluent at working out a text/picture scenario. He made those books more special than my scribblings alone would ever have done and I hope that they will remain one of many memorials to him. Peter was a gentle witty man with a vibrant love of life and the good things that it had to offer and when you were in his presence you knew you were with one who knew what it was really about. He will be greatly missed.