East Hampton’s Hilary Knight, the acclaimed illustrator of the Eloise children’s book series (for precocious adults), is the focus of a new HBO documentary short produced by Girls creator and star Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, and directed by Matt Wolf. It’s Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise is an intimate portrait of Knight, 88, as he looks back at his life and art, most notably his illustrations for Eloise, the popular books about a precocious 6-year-old girl who lives in the Plaza Hotel.
Dunham is an unabashed Eloise fan—she has a tattoo of the character, which sparked her friendship with the artist—and she’s interviewed in the film along with family members, friends and writers who have been inspired by Knight’s work and childlike personality. The film also features delightful animations of Knight’s drawings and his own handheld video footage.
Knight illustrated the Eloise books to match the writings of their author, Kay Thompson, but the pair had a falling out decades ago, leading the tempestuous writer to stop using his art and forbid him from ever drawing Eloise again. Knight persevered and (spoiler alert!), following Thompson’s death, eventually reclaimed the right to continue drawing Eloise.
Knight’s rise, fall and return are all documented in It’s Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise, which fittingly screened, with tea, in the Plaza Hotel’s Palm Court last week and began screening Monday on HBO.
See the trailer below.