Popular Czech children’s author Adolf Born dies aged 85
Czech children’s author Adolf Born died in Prague on Sunday at the age of 85. During his career, Born – whose work has been part of the lives of several generations of Czechs – illustrated more than 400 children’s books, and also had some of his works adapted into animated films.
Born heaped much praise on his colleague Macourek, calling him the most intelligent children’s writer he knew:
“I am weaned on the humour of Miloš Macourek aimed at children. We worked on so many books together that I can’t even remember how many – nor can I remember how many ended up being filmed as animated stories.”
Born was also a lifelong monarchist and adherent of the Austro-Hungarian empire. During communist times, he even grew a handlebar moustache following the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia as a form of subtle protest – he believed until the end that life was simply better during the old monarchy, abolished in 1918, before the illustrator was even born:
“People behaved more honourably to each other in those days. Back then, a handshake meant a binding promise – whether it was that a carpenter would make a beautiful table in one week, or anything else. A person’s word mattered.”
Indeed, Born’s style was directly influenced by his love of all things retro-Hapsburg. His characters often looked and dressed like they belonged in the 19th century or earlier still. He once said he enjoyed going against the grain, be it under the Nazi or Soviet occupations – he wanted to provoke in order to prevent “marching in step into the pit with everyone else”. He also said he wanted his drawings to live “parallel lives” next to the words printed in his books.