Individual English Illustrators: Information on Boys' Fashions

Figure 1.--This illustration shows an English boy in the 1890s wearing a traditionally styled sailor suit. The illustration is signed by Harold Copping. Copping illustrated quite a number of scool story books like the one here. The illustration was in a 1897 book "Little Folks" by ???. Such illustrations of contemporary scenes often had very accurate depictions of clothing.

HBC has collected quite a bit of information on illustrators who have drawn images of children over the years. The earliest illustrator of children's images os probanly Kate Greenway and her classisal drawings. One of the first important Anmericam illustrators is Reginald Birch and his illustrations for Little Lord Fauntleroy. By the turn of the 20th century, advances in color lithograpy provided illistrators to present thir wotk ditrectly to the public. The result was some of the most beautiful illustrations of childhood ever produced--the Glden Age of Illustrtions. Some of the illustrators provie rather mundane drawings. Others illustrations provide wionderful insights into childhood and the clothes worn by children. Unfortunately, relatively little information is available on may of these artists. This is in part because illustrators are not often regarded as serious artists by art historians. The images that they produce, however, have in many cases had a greater cultural impact than that of the great masters.

Reginal Birch (English/American, 1856-1943)

One of the best known 19th century illustrators is Reginal Birch who drew the classic illustrations for the first edition of Little Lord Fauntleroy. Famed Anglo-American illustrator Reginal Birch was born in London during 1856. His family moved to America at 6 years of age and he grew up in San Francusco. He returned to Europe for studies in Germany (Munich) and Italy. I have few details, however, on his childhood or how he was dressed as a boy. Birch was a noted illustrator of the day, regularly illustrating stories in America's legendary St. Nichlos Magazine. On l'appela le "Gibson des enfants" pour ses innombrables dessins à la plume parus dans le Saint-Nicolhas américain. Presumably Birch met Mrs. Burnett through their work at St. Nicholas. He was personaly chosen by her to illustrate her immensly popular book.

Charles. E Brock (English, ??)

An edition published by Warne in 1925 had beautiful illustrations by C E Brock (brother of another story illustrator, H M Brock). A few of the pictures are color plates, showing a royal blue velvet suit, the remainder are monochrome sketches.

George Brook (English)

George Brock illustrated some of Enid Blyton's, including the Secret Seven series.

J.R. Burgess

J.R. Burgess illustrated several school stories. One example was Jefferson Junior which was written by Meredith Fletcher and published by Blackie and Son Limited. There is no publishing date but it seems to be from the 1900s. J.R. Burgess' illustrations are very similar to Harold Copping but Burgess seems to focus on the zenith of the moment in a far more dramatized fashion.

Harold Copping (English, 1863-1932)

Harold Copping was a prolific illustrator who worked on a wide range of subjects. He was born in England during 1863. He recerived his art training at the Royal Academy School and was able to study in Paris on a Landseer Scholarship. He was perhaps the most popular English illustrator of the late Victorian and Edwardian era. Some of his best known works include illustrations for Hammond's Hard Lines (1894), Miss Bobbie (1897), Millionaire (1898), A Queen Among Girls (1900), Pilgrim's Progress (1903), Westward Ho! (1903), Grace Abounding (1905), Three School Chums (1907), Children's Stories from Dickens (1911), Little Women (1912), Good Wives (1913), A Christmas Carol (1920) and Character Sketches from Boz (1924). Many associate Copping with religious illustrations. Having obtained a commissioned to produce illustrations for the Bible he decided to visit Palestine, at the time a part of the Ottoman Empire. The resulting work, The Copping Bible (1910), was extremely successful, proving to be a best-seller and more Bible commissions followed. These illustration were extremely influential and in alrge measure craeted the visual images in the minds of several generations of American and Brtish children. Copping also did illustrations for many magazines, including The Leisure Hour, Little Folks, Pearson's Magazine, The Royal Magazine, The Temple Magazine, and the Windsor Magazine. One of his illustrations from Little Folks is pictured here (figure 1). He illustrated many children's books and is especially well known for his drawings books set in English schools at the time.

Harold Earnshaw (English, 18??-19??)

We know nothing yet about Harold Earnshaw's early life. We know that he was active as an illustrator in the early 20th century. We note some charming school and Boy Scout illustrations. He illustrated books as well as created postcards which were a popular medium at the time. He married another illustrator,Mabel Lucie Attwell. His career was affected when he lost his right arm in World War I. After the War he learned to draw with his left hand and continued his career.

Willam Fassett (English, 18??-19??)

A Canadia reader mentions Willam Fassett to us. He rembers a a boy reading a book that Fassett illustrated. Hopefully some of our readers will know something about Fssett's career as a illustrator. Our Canadian reader writes, "As a child about Grade 3, I read a story called "Careful Hans" which was a German Folk Tale written in the 19th century. I found a copy of the book the other day and scanned the illustration. The book that the story is in is called The Beacon Reader and the illustration was drawn by Willam Fassett in 1922. This is credited in the front of the book. Note Hans' clothing. It is has typical boy's styles of the 1920's with the shorts, long kneesocks, jacket and high-top shoes. In some pictures, he is shown wearing a flat cap."

Thomas Henry Fisher (English, 1879- )

Crompton's Just William books were profusely and beautifully illustrated by Thomas Henry Fisher, although they are usually signed Thomas Henry. Fisher was born at Nottingham in 1879. He had a perfect grasp of the hero's character and foibles. The illustrations also contain a great deal of period information about boys' clothing. Fisher was selected by the publisher Newnes to illustrate the William books. He succedded in creating the perfect visual immage drawn by Crompton in her books. Amazingly, Fisher and Crompton did not meet until 1958 and it is not clear if they even corresonded before that. If so, the correspondence is now lost. Thomas Henry's illustrations with their distinctive facial expressions of mischief drawn with the minimum of lines has always been greatly admired. While Heney is best know for his William drawings, he also illustrated many children's books as well. Unfotunately, I have been able to find very little biographical information about him.

Willaim Ford (English)

Some of the later Just William books were illustrated by Henry Ford, who endevored to portray William in much the same way as Fisher.

Kate Greenaway (English, 1846-1901)

Kate Greenaway is the authoress of many charming children's books which she illustarted herself. Many of the drawing are about animals, but she did many wonderful drawings of children in early 19th century outfits, including Empire dresses, smocks, pinafores, tunics, and skeleton suits. A HBC reader wonders about the children she drew in dresses. He asks, "Kate Greenaway did a lot of drawings featuring children in quaint costumes. I think some of the children in dresses are boys. The only thing I have to base this on is the hats, very elaborate for the girls and plain for the boys with a single ribbon band. Given artistic license, how accurate do you think her depictions are?" HBC does not know. Given that boys were not usually breeched until 4-6 years throughout the 19th century, it seems likely that she would have drawn the younger boys in dresses and smocks. HBC can not, however, confirm this.

Georgina Hargreaves (English)

Georgina Hargreaves illustrated Adventures of the Wishing Chair. We had thought that she allso illustrated The Enchanted Wood (1988 reprint). Georgina tells us, however, that the Johnstone sisters illustrated The Enchanted, but did the next four in that series, gift books by Dean and Son. She also illustrated The Little Witch Dog and The Green Elf.

Gerry Haylock

Several of the reprinted Just William books had new covers by Gerry Haylock. Haylock portrays William as a somewhat more orderly boy and updates the clothing--some of William's mates even wear jeans.

Thomas Henry (English, 1879- )

Crompton's Just William books were profusely and beautifully illustrated by Thomas Henry Fisher, although they are usually signed Thomas Henry. See Fisher above.

Janet and Anne Johnstone (England, 1928-79/98)

nother illustrator (really illustrators), since they worked as a team, are the sisters Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. HBC does not know a great deal about them, but we have noted their delightful drawings in many wonderful children's books. The fashions in their drawings are not, of course, historically accurate. They are largely wonderfully imaginative for children. The fashions are based, however, on a variety of actual English historical styles--19th century styles. Their favorite period appears to be the early 19th century, especially for boys. The tunics, skeleton suits, and peaked caps worn during this period often appear in their drawings. The Grahame drawings do not, however, exclusively draw from this period. We also note notes clothes based on kilts, sailor suits, Fauntleroy suits, white socks, stripped stockings, and other fashions from the mid-19th century as well. We note far fewer 20th century garments like short pants. While some of the fashions illustrated are based on actual historical styles, there are some largely fictitious creations. Notice the lederhosen-like halter on the boy at the right (figure 1). HBC has never noticed boys wearing skeleton suits with anything appraoching a halter like this. The pom on the boy's peaked cap is another style that we can not confirm with actual historical styles--especially English styles.

Bruno Kay

Bruno Kay illustrated some of Enid Blyton's, incliding the Secret Seven series.

Derek Lucas (English, 19??- )

Derek Lucas illustrated some of the Secret Seven books in the 1970s. He attempted to update the clothing the children were wearing. The boys still had caps and blazers in some of the illustrations, but thy were all wearing long trousers. Some boys still wore school sandals. I did not notice any sneakers or American inovations like baseball caps. We have few other details on Lucas' other illustrations.

Louis Rhead (England , 18??-19??)

The 1928 edition of Tom Brown's School Days had some lovely illustrations by Louis Rhead. This illustration appears to be an accurate depiction about how a new boy arriving at Rugby School might look in the 1850s.

Charles Robinson (English, 1896- )

Art ran in Charles Robinson's blood. His father was an early American illustrator and his granfather an engraver. Two brothers also became illustrator. His first major commission was Rober Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Veres in 1895 which included over 100 of his ornate drawings. These masterful line drawings make the first edition a masterpiece that successive editions of the book could not match. He also did many lovely water color illustrations. Robinson illustrated many volumes of fairy tales and other children's books throughout his career. Some of the wonderfull children's books he illustrated included: The Big Book of Nursery Rhymes (1903), The Sensitive Plant by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1911), and the The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde (1913).

Graham Rust (England, 1942- )

Graham Redgrave-Rust is an English artist-illustrator who has also authoted books. His credits are sometimes under the name Graham Rust. Rust was born in Hertfordshire during 1942. He studied his craft at the Polytechnic School of Art, Regent Street; the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London; and the National Academy of Art in New York. He has a strong interest in architectural art. Rust first exhibited drawings of London and Rome at the Hazlitt Gallery in 1971. He has also exhibited overseas. He has illustrated several books. He gas done two of Frances Hodgson Burnett's books: The Secret Garden (1886) and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1993). He also illustrated and Vita Sackville-West's Some Flowers (1993).

Burgess Sharrocks

Burgess Sharrocks appeared in many of the original editions of the Secret Seven. His drawings in the 1950s depict the children in traditional school attire, caps, blazers, jumpers, short pants, kneesocks, and school sandals. We have few other details on Lucas' other illustrations.

Ernest Shepard (English, 1879-76)

One of the most delightful childhood memories of Victorian England is Ernest Shepard's lovely book, Drawn From Memory. Shepard is the artist who illustrated A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh. Shepard grew up in London during the 1880s. He recalls remarkably detailed images of horse-drawn London where a penny was wealth for a child. A warm, delightful view of Victorian England emerges from the book, recollections of the Jubilee, seaside bathing at Eastbourne, hop-picking in Kent, the Drury Lane Pantomine, aunts and illnesses, hansom cabs, hobby horses, park outings, and pea-soup fogs. Shepard details the experiences of he and his brother and describes them through their childhood eyes.

Milicent Sowerby (English, 1878-1967)

Milicent Sowerby illustrated children's books in the early 20th century. Her father was also an illustrator, much influenced by Kate Greenway. She illustrated a large number of children's books and children were perhaps her favorite subject. Perhaps her best known work are the illustraions for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Her illustrations are very nicely done, but she had a tendency to mix garments from different historical periods in the same drawing. Milicent collaborated with her sister Githa on children’s books with Githa writing the stories.

Cicely Steed (English, 19??-??)

W e note some charming illustrations By Cicely Steed from an Enid Blyton book titled Down at the Farm . This is the only Blyton book we know of at this time. Unfortunately, like many of the Blyton illustrators, we have little information about her. We have noted many other books she illustrated, including some religous books by Betty Smith. The Down at the Farm story is essentially about the young Bobby who has been ill in bed. The good doctor recommends to his mother for a swift recovery her son should have spell in the country. Published in Great Britain by Purnell and Sons. There is no publishing date but it seems to be from the late 50s or early 60s. Of note is the brown leather strap shoes (for boys) worn with white ankle socks compared to the girls exclusively black leather strap shoes which don't have the middle leather strip. One HBC reader liked Steed's drawing style to Marcel Marlier who did illustrations of the same time. Marcel's illustrations show the children's demeanor and posture far more pointed and studied with the detail of their clothing more precise.

Margaret Tarrant (English, 1888-1959)

Margaret Tarrant began her professional carrer drwing Christmas Cards but in 1908 ilustrated Kingsley’s The Water Babies. The succes of the book established her reputation as an imaginative illustrator. She like many other illustartors of the day was active drawing post card images. Her 1916 edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was also well received. She worked with Marion St John Webb on a series of Flower Fairy books in the 1920’s that proved very popular. Her drawings are often of fantasy scenes, but she also did many realistic images of contemprary children.

F.H. Townsend (English, 1868-1920)

Frederick Henry Townsend was one of the most notable English satyrical political cartoonist. He was born in London (1868). He studied his craft at the at Lambeth School of Art. A fellow student at the time was Leonard Raven-Hill. Townsend contributed political cartoons to several newspapers and magazines, among which were The Daily Chronicle, Punch Magazine, The Graphic, The Tatler and The Illustrated London News. He also illustrated books, including children's books. He liked to do classics. Some of the books he illustrated included: Maid Marian (1895), Jane Eyre (1896), Shirley (1897), A Tale of Two Cities (1897), The Scarlet Letter (1897) and Rob Roy (1897). Other books included some Sherlock Homes mysteries (1903). He was appointed Punch first art director, but continued to contribute cartoons, some of which became famous, especially his World War I work. Perhaps the most famous was his "No Thoroughfare" hightlighting the German decision to invade France through Belgium after the German invasion of Belgium (1914). Another notable on was about a British by trying to enlist. He did a poster for the United States Food Administration to help promote food aid to the Allies. Townsend died while playing golf (1920). He was replaced as Art Director at Punch by Frank Reynolds.

Blanche Fisher Wright

Blanche Fisher Wright is the illustrator of The Real Mother Goose, originally published in 1916. It is a real classic, still in print, and the illustrations are classic turn of the 20th century. Pretty much the full text and illustrations are on line at Mother Goose. Click on the cover to look at the contents. She also did the lesser known Peter Patter's Pretty Book of Rhymes. One HBC reader reports liking the illustrations better, but the rhymes are not in the same class as The Real Mother Goose.

Unidentified Illustrators

e have found some English illkustrations, but not detrmin who the illustrator is. we are hopeing that our English readers might hrlp u identify wjo the illustrator is. We have found some charming illustrations fromthe John Bull magazine in he 1950s. The foremat was rarher like the the Americn Satutday Evening Post whichbalso had great illustrators andcauthors. John Bull of course featured British illustrtors and authors. Even without knowing the source, mny of the illustrations are clearly British by the way the boys were dresed. The clothing for he girls was less esily idenifiabke as British. We will archive other illustrations here that we are unable to identify.


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Created: September 12, 2001
Last updated: 2:15 PM 3/30/2015