Gail E. Haley oral history interview 4, 2006 May 30
Gail Haley, an author and illustrator of children's literature born in Charlotte, North Carolina, recounts her career during the mid to late 1970s. In this fourth of sixteen interviews, Ms. Haley discusses The Post Office Cat (1976), which was awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration. Ms. Haley describes how a news story concerning parliamentary debates over wage increases for post office cats inspired her to research the history of cats at the Royal Mail and ultimately to write the book. She also recalls several stories about her own cat, Clarence, who served as the model and inspiration for her illustrations. In addition, Ms. Haley details the techniques utilized in creating illustrations which imitated the style of lithography through printing technique and washing in colors using gouache and soapy water with a focus on tonal color in order to create depth. As an author who focuses on costume and performance, Ms. Haley emphasizes the details depicted in the costumes of her characters, which she primarily researched at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Later, she recalls working on her practical guide for costume creation, Costumes for Plays and Playing (1977). Ms. Haley also sets the stage for her sixth interview which discusses her illustrated book, The Green Man (1979). Other themes in this interview include her continued work with Weston Wood Studios, publishing her works in Japan, the history of mail delivery in the United Kingdom, class, and her relationship with her mother.