Marie Horseman

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Marie Horseman
Mollie Horseman 1938.png
BornMarie Compston Horseman
(1911-12-09)9 December 1911
Rochester, Victoria, Australia
Died7 May 1974(1974-05-07) (aged 62)
Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia
Resting placeMulgoa
Pen nameMollie Horseman, Vanessa

Marie Compston "Mollie" Horseman (1911–1974), was an Australian comic book artist, book illustrator and fashion artist. Horseman is most notable for her work on the 1950s comic strips, "Pam" and "The Clothes Horse".


Marie Horseman was born in Rochester, Victoria on 9 December 1911,[1] the daughter of Frederick Ernest Horseman (1882-1966), a farmer, and his wife Katherine Marie Compston (née Miller), who were migrants from Yorkshire, England.[2][3] In 1924, when she was thirteen, her parents separated and Horseman travelled with her mother to England before moving to Germany.[2][3] Horseman's mother managed a canteen for the British Army, whilst Horseman attended a German finishing school.[2][3] Her parents didn't officially divorce until October 1933.[4]

On returning to Australia she was briefly employed by Norman Lindsay and his second wife, Rose, as a governess, for their two daughters.[2][3] Lindsay was impressed with her drawing skills and recommended she attend the National Art School.[2] For financial reasons, she did not complete her course at East Sydney Technical College[1] but during her studies she was influenced by Rayner Hoff's artistic style.[3][5]

In 1929 Horseman together with Joan Morrison became the first female cartoonists to be permanent employees at Smith's Weekly.[2][3][5][6]

Horseman married William Longford Power, an articled clerk, on 2 September 1931 at the North Sydney registry office.[2][3][7] They had one son, Roderick Packenham, before they divorced[3][5] in May 1938.[8]

Horseman then married Nelson Illingworth, grandson of the sculptor Nelson Illingworth on 8 June 1938 at the Mosman Presbyterian Church.[2][3] They had one son and three daughters[5] before the marriage ended in divorce. In the early 1940s the family moved to Brisbane, where Horseman freelanced, drawing comic strips for Frank Johnson Publications as well as contributing cartoons to Man Magazine, Australian Woman's Mirror and Rydge's Business Journal[2][3] (for whom she created "The Tipple Twins").[9]

Smith Weekly cartoonists Jim Russell & Mollie Horseman, 1932

From 1946 she worked for The Courier-Mail at the paper's Sydney Production Unit in York Street.[2] Following the suicide of cartoonist, Jean Cullen,[5][10] Horseman took responsibility for Cullen's new comic strip, "Pam" in the Sunday Mail[2][3][11] and "The Clothes Horse" in The Sydney Morning Herald.[5] "Pam" became Horseman's best-known work, running for over eleven years and becoming widely syndicated.[2][12]

In 1957 she moved to Avalon, a northern beachside suburb of Sydney, with her five children, where she remained until 1967.[5]

During the early 1960s Horseman was the staff artist at Everybody's. Her illustrations (either anonymous or signed "Vanessa") included a weekly full-page colour cartoon of the "Sexy Man" type and the serial Girl Crusoe (1964), a parody of the popular 'good girl cheesecake' comic. In 1963 Everybody's hailed her (somewhat inaccurately) as 'Australia's only woman cartoonist',[9] although she was definitely the best known.[3][13]

Between 1967-69 she returned to Brisbane, where she illustrated books for Jacaranda Press.[2][3] She then moved to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, continuing to undertake freelance work and painting landscapes.[2] She was hit by a car in 1973, which led to a stroke[5] paralysing her right hand.[3] As a result, she taught herself to draw with her left hand.[2]

Horseman died at the age of sixty-two in the Blue Mountains Hospital, Katoomba on 7 May 1974,[1][2][14] and was buried at St Thomas's Church in Mulgoa.[3]


  • Cook, Violet Ethel; Horseman, Mollie (Illus.) (1939). Peat Fires. John Sands Pty. Ltd. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  • Horseman, Mollie (Illus.) (1949). Nursery rhymes. Jacaranda Press. ISBN 978-0-7016-0296-3. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  • Horseman, Mollie (Illus.) (1967). The Lost Boomerang. Jacaranda Press. ISBN 978-07016-7016-0.
  • Thomson, Andrew Kilpatrick; Horseman, Mollie, (Illus.) (1968). The Four Corners : an Anthology of Poetry. Jacaranda Press. ISBN 978-0-7016-0104-1.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Horseman, Mollie (Illus.) (1969). Let us Read B. Jacaranda Press. ISBN 978-0-7016-7034-4.
  • Walker, Kath; Horseman, Mollie (Illus.) (1970). My People. Brisbane, Qld: Jacaranda Press. ISBN 978-0-7016-0356-4.
  • Horseman, Mollie (Illus.) (1970). A Story for Miss Prince. Jacaranda Press. ISBN 978-0-7016-7030-6.
  • Horseman, Mollie (Illus.) (1971). The Magic Car. Jacaranda Press. ISBN 978-0-7016-7014-6.


  1. ^ a b c Kerr, Joan (1 January 1995). "Mollie Horseman". Design & Art Australia Online. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Kerr, Joan (1995). Heritage: the National Women's Art Book : 500 works by 500 Australian Women Artists from Colonial Times to 1955. G+B Arts International. p. 376. ISBN 9789766410452.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Kerr, Joan (2005). "'Horseman, Marie Compston (Mollie) (1911–1974)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography at Australian National University. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  4. ^ "In Divorce". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 25 October 1933. p. 9. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mollie Horseman, Marie Compston 1911–1974". Pittwater Online News. 18 September 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  6. ^ Kerr, Joan (1995). "Joan Morrison". Design & Art Australia Online. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  7. ^ "In Divorce". Sydney Morning Herald. NSW: National Library of Australia. 23 October 1937. p. 12. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  8. ^ "In Divorce". Sydney Morning Herald. NSW: National Library of Australia. 25 May 1938. p. 10. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b Henningham, Nikki (2005). "Marie (Mollie) Horseman". cartoonists. Australian Women's Archives Project. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Death of Jean Cullen". The Mail. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 4 April 1953. p. 3. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Cullen, Jean ( -1950)". The Australian Women's Register. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  12. ^ John Ryan (1979). Panel By Panel: an Illustrated History of Australian Comics. Cassell. p. 71. ISBN 0-7269-7376-9.
  13. ^ Kimball, Duncan. "Everybody's Magazine". Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964-1975. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  14. ^ "Marie Compston Horseman". NSW Government – State Records. Retrieved 22 December 2014.