Oliver Herford

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Oliver Herford, ca. 1916
Edison and Eve, from An Alphabet of Celebrities by Oliver Herford

Oliver Herford (2 December 1860 - 5 July 1935) was an English writer, artist, and illustrator.

He was born in Sheffield, England on 2 December 1860 to Rev. Brooke Herford and Hannah Hankinson Herford. Oliver's father, Brooke, was a Unitarian minister who moved the family to Chicago in 1876 and to Boston in 1882. Oliver attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio from 1877 to 1879. Later he studied art at the Slade School in London and the Académie Julien in Paris. Afterward, he moved to New York, where he lived until his death. He has been called "The American Oscar Wilde".[citation needed][1] As a frequent contributor to The Mentor, Life, and Ladies' Home Journal, he sometimes signed his artwork as "O Herford". In 1906 he wrote and illustrated the Little Book of Bores. He also wrote short poems like "The Chimpanzee" and "The Hen", as well as writing and illustrating "The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten" (1904) and "Excuse It Please" (1930). His sister Beatrice Herford was also a humorist.

Ethel Mumford and Addison Mizner wrote a small book, The Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1903, as a Christmas present and added Herford's name as an author as a joke.[1] The printer made up more copies to sell and to everyone's surprise it was an astounding success. When Herford found out about it he wanted 90% of the royalties. He was awarded an equal third.[2][3][full citation needed]

The Dream Fox Story Book with art by Oliver Herford

Herford's cartoons and humorous verse appeared in journals such as Life, Woman's Home Companion, Century Magazine, Harper's Weekly, The Masses and Punch. Over 30 books illustrated by Herford, and frequently written by him as well, were published from the 1890s to the 1930s. He also wrote plays and was known for his humorous and pithy bon mots. Herford was a longtime member of the Players Club in New York City. He married Margaret Regan in New York on May 26, 1904. Herford died on July 5, 1935 and his wife died the following December.


  • Allegretto by Gertrude Hall (1894)
  • The Simple Jography, or How to Know the Earth and Why it Spins (1908)[4]

With pictures by the author, published by Charles Scribner's Sons:[5]

  • The Bashful Earthquake
  • Neither Here Nor There (1922)
  • A Child's Primer of Natural History; a revision and extension of this title by Margaret Fishback and Hilary Knight appeared as A Child's Book of Natural History (USA: Platt & Monk, 1969)
  • Overheard in a Garden
  • More Animals
  • The Rubaiyat of a Persian Kitten
  • The Fairy Godmother-in-law
  • A Little Book of Bores
  • The Peter Pan Alphabet[6]
  • The Astonishing Tale of a Pen-And-Ink Puppet
  • A Kitten's Garden of Verses

With John Cecil Clay:

  • Cupid's Cyclopedia
  • Cupid's Fair-Weather Booke
  • Cupid's Almanac and Guide to Hearticulture: for This Year and Next (1908)

With Addison Mizner and Ethel Mumford

  • The Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1903
  • The Limerick Up to Date Book (1903)
  • The Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1904 (1903)
  • The Entirely New Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1905 (1904)
  • The Complete Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1906 (1905)
  • The Altogether New Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1907 (1906)
  • The Quite New Cynic's Calendar of Revised Wisdom for 1908 (1907)
  • The Perfectly Good Cynic's Calendar (1908)
  • The Complete Cynic (1910)
  • The Revived Cynic's Calendar (1917)


  1. ^ a b Ashley, Mike, ed. (2015). The Feminine Future: Early Science Fiction by Women Writers. Dover Publications. p. 3.
  2. ^ Mizner, Addison. The Many Mizners. Chicago: Sears, 1932. p. 186.
  3. ^ The New York Times. January 10, 1903
  4. ^ "The Simple jography, or, How to know the earth and why it spins". Internet Archive.
  5. ^ Listed at the end of https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23433, 1911 copyright / PD in US
  6. ^ The Peter Pan Alphabet at Neverpedia

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