Born on August 19th in Hungary in 1935, Victor Ambrus (or László Gyozo Ambrus) was an illustrator of history, folk tales, and animal story books. While he is known as a British illustrator, he spent his childhood and received most of his early education in his native land. His four-year course at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts was interrupted by the unsuccessful 1956 Hungarian Revolution against the Soviet-backed government. Along with fellow students, he fled Hungary, first to Austria, then to Britain, where he hoped to study in the tradition of Ernest Shepard, John Tenniel, and Arthur Rackham. When he arrived in the UK, speaking no English, he presented himself to Farnham Art School and was taken on to focus on his drawing.
His tutor there immediately recognized his talent, and after two years recommended him to the Royal College of Art in London. During this time (1957-60), he married fellow student Glenys R. Chapman; also, he was commissioned for his first British novel, A.C. Jenkins' White Horses and Black Bulls. This was just the beginning.
During his early career, he worked in advertising, did freelance work, and went back to Farnham to teach as he illustrated part time. His long relationship with Oxford University Press began in 1962 and during his career he contributed to more than 300 books!
Apparently, though, he is best-known for his work for the British Archaeology show Time Team (1994-2014), in which he visualized how sites under excavation may have once looked. His book Recreating the Past, I believe, is born from this work, and I'd love to both see the show and that book sometime!
He passed away in February 2021, leaving his wife and two sons.
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