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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jenny Reyn [Edna Clarke, nee Reynolds]

Jenny Reyn was one of the many anonymous toilers in the field who worked for British nursery comics for decades, producing delicate, colourful fairy tales and adaptations of young children's television shows, amongst them The Herbs, Barnaby and Babar.

Jenny Reyn was actually her working name, her real name was Edna Reynolds, Clarke once married. She was born in 1913 in Sittingbourne, her father a gardener and her mother a cook. The family moved because of work first to Chertsey and then to Fulmer in Buckinghamshire when she was about two. She lived in a cottage on the Fulmer Chase Estate with her parents and two older sisters; it sounded an idyllic childhood. The headmistress of the local school noticed her artistic talent and the council provided a bicycle so that Edna was able to attend the art school in Wycombe.

Collins Little Folks Annual

Pippin Annual 1979

On leaving she taught at a girl's private school, but then found work with Ralph Mott advertising studio in London in 1932. Her next job was as one of the first animators for Halas and Batchelor, first at Bush House in London and then as the bombing got worse they moved out to Bushey (apparently there were just six animators) later returning to London in Soho Square. She worked on films such as Digging for Victory (1942), Jungle Warfare (1943), warning soldiers of foot rot, and Handling Ships (1944-45), about ship control and navigation.

Daily Sketch Children's Annual

Parsley Annual 1973

Her first child was born in 1946 so she regretfully had to stop work. Her second daughter was born in 1950.

Wishing to continue working she was taken on by the Judy Boland Studio as a freelance illustrator and worked on various children's books and comics, Robin Annual, Sunny Stories, Daily Sketch Children's Annual, Collins Little Folks Annual and Playways Annual. She was a friend of the illustrators Hilda Boswell and Bill Backhouse ("I think Hilda helped her find her way into comics," says her daughter, Corinne).

Barbar Annual 1972

Collins Little Folks Annual

In the 1960s she worked on the Pippin and Playland comics, producing a spread every week something she continued to do right into her seventies, other annuals she worked on were the Pippin Annual, the Barnaby Annual, the Babar Annual and the Parsley Annual.

(* My thanks to Corinne, Edna Clarke's daughter, for the above information and scans.)

1 comment:

Emma Kane said...

I think she was taken on by The Kathleen Boland Studio? Brilliant artist and thanks for this. I loved Barnaby.