Richard Bennett Biography

Richard Bennett




Richard Frances Bennett (nee: Bennette) was an author and illustrator of children's books. He was born in Leap, Ireland on July 22, 1899. He came to America at the age of four. His parents bought a farm in what was a wild and unsettled part of Washington state, the land which is now 'Bennett School' in Bellevue. Bears, deer, mountain lions and other wildlife were abundent. Most of the Bennett family neighbors were Samish Indians whose activities became the background for some of the books he later authored.

The family farm was forty acres situated between 24th Street NE and 16th Street SE (the Weathersfield area of Bellevue), including the present school property of ten acres. After the house burned down, the family moved to Seattle for a time and sold all but the ten acres. Moving back to the area of Cedar Lane in 1960, the family used planks from the loft of the old family barn to floor the deck and stairs of the house.

Richard Bennett went to local schools and studied art at the University of Washington. He then taught art for several years in South Bend, Indiana. It was here that he developed his woodcut and print technique. Each summer he would go to Europe or visit the area of his family's origin in Ireland. He took many photos that he used when making woodcuts and prints.

Richard Bennett spent the later part of his life illustrating more than 200 children's books. He also wrote seven books for children. The most famous is "Shawnee and the Gander" which is set in Ireland and tells of his early childhood. The Bennett School library has a circulating collection of books written by Richard Bennett as well as some of his illustrations on the walls as large art prints.

At the
age of 59 Richard Bennett suffered a stroke which left his entire right side paralyzed. This greatly curtailed his activities. When Bennett School was opened in 1970, Richard Bennett was 71 and he came to the dedication ceremony in a wheelchair.

Richard Bennett died in Seattle, Washington on September 16, 1971.

Biography submitted by Jean Bolivar, Bennett Elementary School, Bellevue, Washington