Eloise Burns, was born in Rochester, New York in 1904. She became a freelance illustrator after graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a year later was in New York City, with Joan Esley, another graduate. Maybe that's why Joan's LGB, Play Street looks so much like and Eloise book. Her first day in New York she was given a book contract to illustrate for Century Publishing. Married, Sydney Wilkin, around 1935, they moved to Canandaigua to illustrate and raise a family. Eloise, illustrated her first book with her sister Esther Wilkin (married Sydney's brother), Mrs. Peregrine and the Yak, in 1939. They would collaborate on around 20 books.
In 1943, George Duplaix, and editor for Simon & Schuster and one of the key people in the development of Little Golden Books asked her to come to New York and talk about a contract. She told him she couldn't because she hadn't a babysitter. Duplaix, would not take no and Eloise went to New York and signed a contract with the Little Golden Book people to do around four books a year. She illustrated, exclusively for Golden Books from 1943 to 1961. Her last book for Golden was published around the mid 80's.
Eloise was a women that stood up for her beliefs, whether it was refusing to paint pants on a woman or marching with Martin Luther King or assisting a college student in the burning of his draft card.
On October 4, 1987, Eloise died of cancer, at Genesee Hospital in Brighton, New York. At the time of her death at 84, she was working on a new doll and was still illustrating.
With around 100 books illustrated, she will be remembered as one of the top children's illustrators of the 20th century.