Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

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Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
Ida Rentoul

9 June 1888
Died25 June 1960
Carlton, Melbourne
EducationPresbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne
Known forillustrator
Notable work
Elves and Fairies[1]
MovementPost-Federation Australian fairytales[1]
'Fairy Islands' from the book Elves and Fairies 1916 by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
From Elves & Fairies by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
The Waterfall Fairy
From Elves & Fairies by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite
For the New Zealand artist, see Isa Outhwaite.

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, also known as Ida Sherbourne Rentoul and Ida Sherbourne Outhwaite[2] (9 June 1888 – 25 June 1960), was an Australian illustrator of children's books. Her work mostly depicted fairies.


Ida was born in Carlton, Victoria, the youngest child of four and second daughter of the Rev. John Laurence Rentoul,[2] an Irish-born Presbyterian minister and academic, and his wife Annie Isobel (née Rattray). At the time of her birth Outhwaite's father was a professor at Ormond College, University of Melbourne, and later moderator-general of his church between 1912 and 1914. When World War I broke out, he became chaplain-general of the First Australian Imperial Force.[3]

Outhwaite was educated at Presbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne. After she married Arthur Grenbry Outhwaite on 8 December 1909 was generally known as Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. Before this she had variously signed her work I.S.R. and at some point changed this to I.R.O. She also occasionally used I.S.R.O. and full spellings rather than abbreviations.

Outhwaite worked predominantly with pen and ink, and watercolour.

Outhwaite's first illustration was published by New Idea magazine in 1904 when she was just 15 years of age – it accompanied a story written by her older sister, Anne Rattray Rentoul. In the years that followed, the sisters collaborated on a number of stories. Following her marriage to Grenbry Outhwaite in 1909, she also collaborated with her husband – most notably for The Enchanted Forest (1921), The Little Fairy Sister (1923) and Fairyland (1926). In a number of cases, her children – Robert, Anne, Wendy and William – served as models for her illustrations. She inspired a number of artists including Edith Alsop, Ethel Spowers and Ethel Jackson Morris.[4]

Her illustrations were exhibited throughout Australia, as well as in London and Paris between 1907 and 1933. She died in Australia at Caulfield, Victoria.

Publications carrying her illustrations include:

  • Mollie's Bunyip (1904);
  • Mollie's Staircase (1906);
  • Gum Tree Brownie and other Faerie Folk of the Never Never (1907);
  • Before the Lamps are Lit (1911);
  • Elves and Fairies (1916);
  • The Enchanted Forest (1921);
  • The Little Green Road to Fairyland (1922);
  • The Little Fairy Sister (1923);
  • The Sentry and the Shell Fairy (1924);
  • Fairyland (1926);
  • Blossom: A Fairy Story (1928);
  • Bunny and Brownie: The Adventures of George and Wiggle (1930);
  • A Bunch of Wild Flowers (1933) and
  • Sixpence to Spend (1935).

Her works were also published in periodicals and newspapers such as The New Idea, The Native Companion, Australia Today and the British-Australasian.

Her work is depicted in four stained glass windows in an adjoining hall at St Mark's Anglican Church in Fitzroy, Victoria.

In 1985 she was honoured on a postage stamp, depicting an illustration from Elves and Fairies, issued by Australia Post.[5]


  1. ^ a b "The once world-famous Australian fairy-tale artist you've likely never heard of". ABC News. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b Langmore, Diane. "Outhwaite, Ida Sherbourne (1888–1960)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 29 July 2012 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  3. ^ Serle, Percival (1949). "Rentoul, John Laurence (1846–1926)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney, NSW: Angus and Robertson. The younger daughter, Ida Sherbourne, afterwards Mrs Outhwaite, became well known as an illustrator of fairy tales.
  4. ^ "Outhwaite, Ida Rentoul (1888–1960)". 25 June 1960. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  5. ^ "Elvies & Fairies".

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