John Polgreen (1910 – 1970) was a prolific illustrator, whose science-fiction illustrations for numerous children’s books and education books still resonate today and clearly influenced other artists in the field of SF art that followed him.
Self-taught, Polgreen, who lived in Dobbs Ferry, New York, studied at Syracuse University going on to illustrate some one hundred books, often working with his wife, Cathleen, an amateur astronomer, for top US publishers, including Little, Brown & Co, Random House, and Doubleday. Also a cartoonist, he favoured subjects such as astronomy and space exploration.
A member of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observation of Variable Star Observers, his many credits include four “Adventures in Space” books written by Willy Ley, offering a striking take on space exploration, published by Guild Press; Exploring the Planets, and Exploring under the Earth: The Story of Geology and Geophysics, by Roy Gallant; Isaac Asimov’s Satellites in Outer Space; Patricia Lauber’s This Restless Earth; and The Sky Observer’s Guide. Books he illustrated became international best-sellers, translated into German, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish and Finnish.
He also worked in aerospace design, commercial illustration, and illustrated numerous newspaper and magazine features, including Joseph Hergesheimer’s “White Armor” (Saturday Evening Post, November 1936) and “The Great Wall” (also for the Saturday Evening Post, December 1936).
Other illustrations appeared in Collier’s (1934, 1941), The Country Gentleman (1935), Harper’s and Red Book (1939, 1940 and 1941), Liberty (1940).