William Steig

William Steig (November 14, 1907 – October 3, 2003) was a prolific American cartoonist, sculptor and, later in life, an author of popular children's literature. Most noted for the books Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Abel's Island and Doctor De Soto, he also created the character Shrek, who inspired the popular movie series. Steig was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish-Jewish immigrants from Austria, both socialists. His father, Joseph Steig, was a house painter, and his mother, Laura Ebel Steig, was a seamstress who encouraged his artistic leanings. As a child, he dabbled in painting and was an avid reader of literature. Among other works, he was said to have been especially fascinated by Pinocchio. In addition to his artistic endeavors, he also did well at athletics, being a member of the collegiate All-American water polo team. He graduated from Townsend Harris High School at 15 but never completed college, though he attended three, spending two years at City College of New York, three years at the National Academy of Design and a mere five days at the Yale School of Fine Arts before dropping out of each.

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