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Woodroffe, Patrick

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1940-2014) British artist. His academic background was in modern languages, not art, and he taught French and German for several years until the popularity of his paintings allowed him to focus exclusively on his art. His early sf book covers stood out for a number of reasons: an appealingly childlike aura, unusual creativity, meticulous attention to detail, and bright, surprising colours. It is difficult to single out particular examples, but his cover for the 1973 paperback edition of Robert A Heinlein's The Best of Robert A Heinlein (coll 1973), reused as the cover of The Best of Robert A Heinlein: 1939-1942 (coll 1977), might be taken as representative, a delightful rendering of an antiquarian Spaceship lifting off an alien planet with strange vegetation and a large moon while a small, four-legged Robot observes its departure. He also painted a striking portrait of a blue-skinned humanoid cleaning a strange firearm for a 1975 cover of Jack Vance's The Gray Prince (August-October 1974 Amazing Stories; 1974). While mostly noted for covers that had the ambience of Fantasy, Woodroffe could also craft impressive spacecraft flying through space, as observed on his 1976 cover for Jane Hipolito's and Willis E McNelly's anthology The Book of Mars (anth 1971 as Mars, We Love You; vt 1976) and his 1976 cover for Fritz Leiber's The Best of Fritz Leiber (coll 1974). Demonstrating his impact, the first compilation of his artwork, Mythopoeikon: Fantasies, Monsters, Nightmares, Daydreams (1976), appeared only a few years after he had started his full-time career; several others would follow.

Woodroffe continued painting book covers in the 1970s and 1980s, but these grew increasingly rare as he was preoccupied with other projects. He painted some album covers, including an image of a naked male angel looking down on a barren landscape for the cover of Judas Priest's Sad Wings of Destiny (1976). He also began writing and illustrating his own books, beginning with two children's books, Micky's New Home (1976) and Tinker: The Adventures of the Hole-Eating Duck (1976). Later works in this vein were more ambitious, including a retelling of the first five books of the Bible, The Second Earth: The Pentateuch Re-Told (graph 1987). Branching out in other areas, Woodroffe designed the creatures for the Fantasy film The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter (1990), wrote a celebratory foreword for the 1991 edition of Chris Achilleos's Medusa (1988), created some admired sculptures, and staged exhibitions of his original art throughout Europe. As he approached the age of seventy, Woodroffe understandably became less active, though posthumous compilations of his remarkable artwork may yet appear.

This artist should not be confused with the lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe (1954-    ), who has some slight sf connections such as the UK stage show Batman Live (2011). [GW]

Patrick Woodroffe

born Halifax, West Yorkshire: 27 October 1940

died Cornwall: 10 May 2014


graphic works


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