Celebrate 40 years of The Snowman™ in Brighton Museum

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Brighton Museum celebrate 40 Years of The Snowman™

© The Snowman Enterprises Ltd 2018

“I remember that winter because it had brought the heaviest snow I had ever seen.

Snow had fallen steadily all night long and in the morning I woke in a room filled

with light and silence, the whole world seemed to be held in a dream-like stillness.

It was a magical day… and it was on that day I made The Snowman.”

Raymond Briggs

The Snowman animation, 1982

20 October 2018 to 6 January 2019

Once upon a time, on a still, snowy winter’s day in Sussex, a magical picture book was created. Narrated entirely through pictures, it captures the innocence and wonder of childhood with its dreamlike, hand drawn illustrations.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Snowman Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, together with Penguin Ventures (part of Penguin Random House) are pleased to be showing a stunning exhibition of the original book artwork created by the Sussex-based author and illustrator Raymond Briggs.

The exhibition will also inspire a new collage artwork of The Snowman using festive images submitted by the public to be unveiled in December at the museum.

The Snowman, first published in 1978, is a magical story of love and loss. The picture book tells the story of a boy who builds a snowman which comes to life at the stroke of midnight. He and the boy explore the house, trying not to wake the boy’s parents.

The Snowman and the boy go outside and take flight, travelling over snow-covered fields and getting a bird’s-eye view of the buildings of Brighton, including the Royal Pavilion. They stay out until sunrise when the boy reluctantly goes home to bed. The next morning the boy wakes up to find that his new friend has melted.

In 1982 The Snowman was adapted for screen and has been shown on Channel 4 at Christmas every year since, becoming a firm favourite with children and adults all over the world and an intrinsic part of family festive traditions.

Some of the original hand-drawn cels, celluloid sheets used for traditional animation, from the TV adaptation will also be on display.

Since it was first published forty years ago, The Snowman has been produced in 21 languages around the world and has inspired a number of additional stories including a sequel animation, The Snowman and the Snowdog.

To commemorate the anniversary, children’s author Michael Morpurgo has reimagined Raymond Briggs’ original tale as a chapter book. Illustrated by Robin Shaw, The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo will appeal to middle-grade readers.

Robin Shaw has also created a short animation especially for the 40th anniversary celebrations that will premiere in the gallery from 4 December.

Families will be able to enjoy a fun-filled Christmas day out by visiting The Snowman show and Christmas at the Royal Pavilion where the Pavilion is decked out in sumptuous festive decorations including a replica of Queen Victoria’s sleigh for the ultimate Christmas family photo.

Councillor Alan Robins, chair of the tourism, development and culture committee said: “We are delighted to be welcoming the Snowman to the museum this winter.  I’m sure Snowman fans of all ages will enjoy this magical exhibition, from the displays of original material and the unveiling of a brand new story, to helping to create a magnificent Snowman collage.”

My Snowman collects public photos for new artwork

Throughout October and November, award-winning visual artist Helen Marshall is creating a portrait of The Snowman and James from photographs submitted by members of the public. These festive photographs might be of Christmas memories snow scenes or all things wintery.

Izzy Richardson, Head of Brand Management for Penguin Ventures (part of Penguin Random House) said: “We’re truly excited about seeing Raymond’s original artwork exhibited in such an iconic location which also features in The Snowman.  The My Snowman project is a unique and meaningful way of bringing members of the public, partners and fans of The Snowman together to celebrate 40 years of making magical memories and we look forward to seeing the final piece on display.”

The final image will be unveiled and on display in the gallery from 4 December.

People can take part by sending in festive photographs and sharing their stories at the People’s Picture website throughout October and November. It will be possible to zoom in online to the individual pictures and to discover more about them.


Commissioned by Penguin Ventures, (part of Penguin Random House), the My Snowman project celebrates the 40th anniversary of Raymond Briggs’s iconic book. Submissions to the campaign will be accepted until 18 November 2018.




This exhibition has been produced in collaboration with Penguin Ventures (part of Penguin Random House)


Notes for editors

Raymond Briggs was born in 1934. He showed interest in cartooning from an early age and studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and at the Slade School of Fine Art. He became a professional illustrator, working in advertising and going on to win acclaim as a children’s book creator as well as teaching illustration at Brighton College of Art.

In 1966 Raymond won the Kate Greenaway medal for an illustrated a book of nursery rhymes, The Mother Goose Treasury. Since then he has produced a treasure trove of work, becoming one of the most innovative and popular author/illustrators of our time.

His books include Father Christmas (1973), Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975), Fungus the Bogeyman (1977), The Snowman (1978), When the Wind Blows (1982), The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman (1984) and Ethel & Ernest (1998). These books have been translated into many languages and adapted into films, plays and animations for television.

Raymond has won many awards and accolades throughout his career. Recently, he was honoured with the Book Trust Lifetime Achievement Award, which celebrates people who have made an outstanding contribution to children’s literature.

Raymond Briggs writes and illustrates from his home and studio in the Sussex Downs, near Brighton. The house that appears in The Snowman is based on Raymond’s own home and the view from the boy’s window was inspired by the view from his studio.

Raymond Briggs never intended for The Snowman to be a festive tale and the original story does not mention Christmas. It became a seasonal favourite when producer John Coates created a short animated version of The Snowman, first broadcast by Channel 4 on Boxing Day in 1982. Channel 4 has shown the film every Christmas since.

In this traditional hand-drawn animation, the boy and the snowman start off exactly as they do in the original book. But once they leave the house, they fly farther afield than in the original story, leaving behind the shores of Sussex to go on a Christmas-themed adventure.

In 1983, The Snowman animation won Best Children’s Programme at the BAFTA TV Awards and was nominated for an Oscar. The film narrative has gone on to inspire further adaptations with global publishing, theatrical shows, a ballet and orchestral performances.

About The Snowman™
The Snowman was created and illustrated by Raymond Briggs as a picture book, narrated entirely through hand-drawn illustrations and was first published in 1978. Now one of the world’s most popular picture books, The Snowman has sold in excess of 5.5 million copies globally and has been translated into 15 languages.

The Snowman was adapted for screen by producer John Coates and was first broadcast on Channel 4’s inaugural year in 1982.  The Oscar-nominated animation has been broadcast every Christmas since. The sequel, The Snowman and The Snowdog premiered on Channel 4 on Christmas Eve 2012 and was seen by over 10 million people over that festive period.

The Snowman™ brand enjoys an international audience with publishing, global broadcast, live events and a successful consumer products programme managed by Penguin Ventures (part of Penguin Random House).

Snowman Enterprises Limited (SEL) is a Penguin Random House company.



Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is located in the Royal Pavilion garden, at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter. Its diverse collections bring together the arts and history to tell stories about the city and the world we live in.

Admission charge payable, Members free

Twitter: @BrightonMuseums


For further information, interviews and images please contact Caroline Sutton on caroline.sutton@brighton-hove.gov.uk or + 44 (0)1273 296718.  Please note that I work Mon – Thurs – for urgent enquiries in my absence please contact museums.marketing@brighton-hove.gov.uk or 03000 290906.