11th December 1942 – 16th June 1991
The Sebastian Walker I’ll remember was a true perfectionist. If he did something, he had to excel at it. His two great passions were playing the piano and publishing children’s books. He played the piano for several hours every day and reached concert standard. And virtually single-handedly he changed the face of children’s book publishing in this country. Under his visionary leadership, Walker Books have revolutionzed the long-ingrained attitude that you can’t publish profitably for the under-fives. They’ve taken hold of picture books and showed how much greater attention to design and production can result in a quality hitherto mostly lacking. They’ve never been afraid to try something new, to push out the boundaries that have often stifled creativity in the past, to nurture new talent, to offer authors and artists realistic financial rewards for their work, and to give proper attention to the marketing of their books both here and overseas.
The Sebastian Walker I’ll remember was devoted to the cause of bringing real quality to children’s books. He was incredibly generous, despairing of narrow-mindedness, intolerant of mediocrity and disloyalty, and truly brave in the last months of his life. He was hugely talented, and the children’s book world will be a poorer place without him.
I’ll certainly miss him.