Ethel Larcombe (artist)

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Ethel Larcombe
Laura Ethel Larcombe

1876 (1876)
Exeter, England
Died12 December 1940(1940-12-12) (aged 63–64)
Exeter, England
Known forIllustration, Typography
MovementArts and Crafts movement, Art Nouveau
Ethel Larcombe - dedication page, Walter Shaw Sparrow's Women Painters of the World (1905)
Ethel Larcombe - Advertisement - 1901

Ethel Larcombe (née Laura Ethel Larcombe, 1876-1940) was an early twentieth-century British children's book illustrator and designer.


Born and raised in Exeter, Larcombe was the daughter of John Samuel Larcombe and his wife Louisa who owned a small school in the town.[1] She first garnered attention for her 1899 work Summer for a competition held by The Studio Magazine, and her typographic lettering was subsequently shown at the Prima Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Decorativa Moderna in 1902 in Turin.[2] She was employed on a freelance basis by Talwin Morris, Art Director at the Glasgow-based publishers Blackie & Son to design bookbindings for the firm and their London subsidiary, Gresham.[3] Many of these designs were produced in several colourways.

Larcombe's work can be seen in contemporary publications by The Studio Magazine,[4] Stone,[5] Von Larisch,[6] Walter Shaw Sparrow[7] and Salwey.[8] In the spring of 1917, American retailer Sears marketed green-bordered cotton cloth "coverettes" bearing Larcombe illustrations to customers looking to decorate nurseries and children's rooms. Prior to that she had illustrated a number of "rag books" for Dean & Son.[9] Her designs were also used for chromolithographed postcards printed by E. W. Savory Co. of Bristol and she provided an advert for Arts & Crafts furniture designers Neatby & Evans.[10]

Larcombe died in Exeter on 12 December 1940.


  1. ^ Cope, P. & Cope, D. (2009) 'Dean's rag books and rag dolls: the products of a famous British publisher and toymaker', River Books, p.228
  2. ^ Koch, A. (1902) 'L'Exposition internationale des arts decoratifs modernes: à Turin 1902', Darmstadt: Koch, p.199, Available [1]
  3. ^ See Beare, G. (1998) ‘Designers of Blackie's Glasgow-style book covers’, Imaginative Book Illustration Society newsletter, no. 8, pp.5-8, and, Gibbs, R. J. (1984) ‘Talwin Morris again: evaluation and collaboration – Part II’, Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society newsletter, no. 37, pp.3-6, and, Gibbs, R. J. (2007) ‘Designs for the serial titles of Blackie’s and Mudie’s by Talwin Morris, Ethel Larcombe and C. R. Mackintosh’, Journal of the Scottish Society for Art History, vol. 12, pp.22-26
  4. ^ Holme, C. (ed.) (1902) 'Modern design in jewellery and fans', London: The Studio, Available and Holme, C. (ed.) (1911) 'Pen, pencil and chalk', London: The Studio
  5. ^ Stone, W. M. (1902) 'Women designers of book-plates', New York: Randolph R. Beam, Available
  6. ^ Von Larisch, R. (1902) 'Beispiele Kunstlerischer Schrift', Vienna: Anton Scholl, Available
  7. ^ Sparrow, W. H. (1905) 'Women painters of the world', London: Hodder & Stoughton, Available
  8. ^ Salwey, J. (1921) 'The art of drawing in lead pencil', London: B.T. Batsford, pp.205-206, 208, Available
  9. ^ Cope, P. & Cope, D. (2009) 'Dean's rag books and rag dolls: the products of a famous British publisher and toymaker', River Books
  10. ^ An example can be seen in Holme, C. (ed.) (1901) 'Modern British domestic architecture and decoration', London: The Studio, Available