Mabel Lucie Attwell

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Mabel Lucie Attwell
Born Mabel Lucie Attwell
4 June 1879
Mile End, London, England
Died 5 November 1964
Fowey, Cornwall
Nationality British
Education Coopers' Company
Regent Street Art School
Heatherley Art School
Occupation Author and illustrator
Years active 1900–1962
Employer Various publishers
Known for Illustrations depicting children; pottery designs
Notable work(s) Peter Pan (1921)
Children's books
Ephemera (postcards, greeting cards, etc.)
Spouse(s) Harold Cecil Earnshaw (d. 1937)
Children One daughter, Marjorie
Two sons
Parents Augustus and Emily Ann Attwell

Mabel Lucie Attwell (4 June 1879 – 5 November 1964) was a British illustrator. She was known for her cute, nostalgic drawings of children, based on her daughter, Peggy. Her drawings are featured on many postcards, advertisements, posters, books and figurines. In 1908, she married painter and illustrator Harold Cecil Earnshaw and became the mother of one daughter and two sons.

Biography[edit]

Attwell was born in Mile End, London, 4 June 1879,[1] the sixth child of butcher Augustus Attwell and his wife Emily Ann. She was educated privately and at the Coopers' Company School and at the Regent Street school. She studied at Heatherley's and Saint Martin's School of Art, and but left to develop her own interest in imaginary subjects, disliking the emphasis on still-life drawing and classical subjects.[1]

After she sold work to the Tatler and Bystander, she was taken on by the agents Francis and Mills, leading to a long and consistently successful career. In 1908, she married painter and illustrator Harold Cecil Earnshaw (d. 1937) with whom she had a daughter, Marjorie, and two sons. She died at her home in Fowey, Cornwall, in 1964, after which her business was carried on by her daughter, Marjorie.

Works[edit]

Mabel Lucie Attwell's initial career was founded on magazine illustration, which she continued throughout her life, but around 1900 she began receiving commissions for book illustration, notably for W & R Chambers and the Raphael House Library of Gift Books. She illustrated children's classics such as Mother Goose (1910), Alice in Wonderland (1911), Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales (1914), The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley (1915), and Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie. Attwell contributed illustrations to popular periodicals such as The Tatler, The Bystander, Graphic, and The Illustrated London News. She produced advertising illustrations for clients such as Vim (cleaning product), and illustrated greeting cards as well.[2]

Her early works were somewhat derivative of the style of artists such as her friend Hilda Cowham, Jessie Willcox Smith, John Hassall, and the Heath Robinson brothers. From 1914 onwards, however, she developed her trademark style of sentimentalized rotund cuddly infants, which became ubiquitous across a wide range of markets: cards, calendars, nursery equipment and pictures, crockery and dolls. In 1921, J.M. Barrie personally requested her to illustrate the gift-book edition of Peter Pan. The Lucie Attwell Annual was published from 1922 to 1974, its continuance ten years after her death being made possible by extensive re-use of images, a practice established in 1920s picture books of her work.

In 1926 Shelley Potteries commissioned Mabel Lucie Attwell to produce designs for children’s china ware, following the successful sales of china decorated with designs by Hilda Cowham. Attwell’s first six designs portrayed scenes involving children, animals and small green elves in green suits - these were called ‘Boo Boos’ and used on cups, mugs, bowls etc.[3][4]

Children's ware designed by Mabel Lucie Attwell

She also produced a tea set; the teapot was in the shape of a mushroom house, the sugar bowl was a mushroom with the top cut off and the milk jug was a green Boo Boo in a coy saluting pose. The response to these designs was enthusiastic and the Pottery Gazette wrote that they were ‘a truly irresistible range of nursery ware, altogether in advance of what was usually put before the trade.’ Her success continued and from 1937 a series of children figures was introduced, all being named.

A series of small elves in various poses followed. Mabel Lucie continued to produce designs for Shelley and the ware was still being manufactured in the sixties.

Books by Attwell[edit]

Early work
Late work
  • The Boo-Boos Series, Valentine, 1921-22.
  • Lucie Attwell’s Annual, Partridge, 1922-1926.
  • Baby’s Book, Raphael Tuck, 1922.
  • Lucie Attwell’s Children’s Book, Dean, 1927-1932.
  • Lucie Attwell’s Annual, Dean, 1933-1974.
  • Lucie Attwell’s Painting Books, Dean, 1934.
  • Lucie Attwell’s Great Big Midget Books, Dean, 1934-35.
  • Story Books, Dean, 1943-45.
  • Jolly Book, 1953.
  • Nursery Rhymes Pop-up Book, 1958.
  • Book of Verse, 1960.
  • Book of Rhymes, Dean, 1962.

References[edit]

  • Brian Alderson, "Attwell, Mabel Lucie (1879–1964)", rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2007 accessed 2 Dec 2007
  1. ^ a b Dalby, Richard (1991), The Golden Age of Children's Book Illustration, Gallery Books, pp. 132–3, ISBN 0-8317-3910-X 
  2. ^ Souter, Nick and Tessa (2012). The Illustration Handbook: A guide to the world's greatest illustrators. Oceana. p. 119. ISBN 978-1-84573-473-2. 
  3. ^ The Collectible World of Mabel Lucie Attwell by John Henty 1999 ISBN 0903685701
  4. ^ Gifts for Good Children part II by Maureen Batkin ISBN 0903685302

External links[edit]