Born 16th November 1916, Miroslav Sasek grew up in Prague. After finishing school he wanted to study to become a painter, but his parents were disapproving, so to appease them he decided to studied architecture instead. He did however study drawing and painting with Czech landscape artist Otakar Blažíček, and later in 1947 moved to Paris to study at the École des Beaux Arts. Just at the onset of his illustration career, prompted by the 1948 Czech coup, Mr Sasek decided not to return to his homeland and instead emigrate to Munich.
Whilst earning a living as a graphic artist in advertising and architecture, Mr Sasek paid a visit to Paris, where it suddenly dawned upon him that there were not any books written for children to learn about their city. So in 1957 he created a children’s guide book to Paris, titled This is Paris. In doing so, he began what would become his life’s work. Following the success of This is Paris he went on to produce books on London (1959), Rome (1960), New York (1960) and many others. In total Mr Sasek produced 18 books in the series, with plans of others including Bombay and Canada. Sadly, in 1980 he died while visiting his sister in Switzerland, leaving those plans unrealised.
The quality of the illustrations, and the success of the series earned Mr Sasek multiple awards over the years, including New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year (twice), Society of Illustrators Award for Excellence, and an entry in the International Board on Books for Young People Honour List.
Obviously the best place to see more of M. Sasek’s work is by picking up one (or more) of his This Is… books, but you can also find further information on the Miroslav Sasek Foundation website, and this great little fan website.