Norman Meredith grew up in Liverpool and was educated for the most part at a small private school. He was singled out for his talent for drawing, and his widowed mother soon bought him some painting equipment: ‘my pride and joy at owning real artists’ paints and brushes knew no bounds’. With the encouragement of both his mother and his grandmother, he took evening classes and, at the age of sixteen, enrolled at Liverpool School of Art. Scholarships allowed him to travel in Europe and to further his study at the Royal College of Art under Gilbert Spencer and William Rothenstein. He is the oldest living artist to have studied at the Royal College. Meredith taught at Aberystwyth University and, part-time, at a secondary school in Kent, before turning to humorous illustration in the hope of securing a more stable income.
He contributed to Punch, the Bystander, the Tatler and the Sketch and was, at the same time, able to sell the originals of these contributions. Through a collaboration with Enid Blyton at the end of the Second World War, he began to illustrate many children’s and educational books and also worked with her on a strip cartoon for the Evening Standard. Having developed as an expert illustrator, he joined the staff of St Martin’s School of Art in 1947 as a part-time tutor in commercial art, and later taught illustration and drawing. He retired in 1974 and began to produce both text and illustrations for a series of books concerning an anthropomorphic world. The success of this venture resulted in designs for textiles and gift wrap, greetings cards, chinaware and tin boxes, a variety of products which rivalled the marketing strategies of Mabel Lucie Attwell. It was, in fact Meredith’s interest in Attwell that first brought him to Chris Beetles Gallery; his first contribution to its annual illustrators’ exhibition, in 1984, was a sell-out. A very successful solo show in the following year established him as a gallery favourite.