Sunday, November 15, 2009

S R Boldero

A prolific artist whose career has been something of a mystery until now. I believe I have managed to track down at least some information on his life, although it is scant and doesn't reveal much about the artist himself.

Stephen Richard Boldero is the only person with the correct initials that I've been able to track down who was around at the right time. He was born Stephen Richard Hamel-Wedekind in 1898, the son of merchant Richard Christian Benedictus Hamel-Wedekind (who was, in turn, the son of Rudolph Hamel, a manufacturer), and his wife Tempe Stanley Browne (the youngest daughter of Camillo di Montebello Drew, an officer in the Ceylon police), who married in 1897.

R. Hamel Wedekind would appear to be the author of Some Notes Extracted From A Diary To Give An Idea Of The State Of Morocco In 1889, a 48-page book(let?) describing the social life and customs in Morocco.

Tempe Hamel-Wedekind had previously married (in 1893 to Harold Montagu Browne), and already had one son, Harold Browne, born in India in c.1895. Richard and Tempe had two children, Stephen Richard (born on 3 April 1898 in Caterham, Surrey, and John Christian (born 28 December 1899 in Caterham, Surrey). It would then seem that Richard died suddenly. In 1901, when the census describes Tempe as a widow, the family were living at 5 Sinclair Gardens, Hammersmith, the household including four servants (a cook, nurse, parlourmaid and housemaid).

By the time of the 1911, the family were living in Battle, Sussex, and Tempe Stanley Hamel-Wedekind had reverted to her family name of Boldero, although it was not her maiden name. The Boldero name had originated in Suffolk but Tempe's family had strong links much further east. Her grandfather, John Stephen Boldero (1790-1858), was in the civil service of the East India Company in India. He and his wife Louisa (nee Templeton) had six children, all born in India between 1818-1830, the last being Tempe Stanley Boldero, born in Moradabad, on 11 October 1830. She married Captain Camillo di Montebello Drew on 7 May 1850 and had six children. Again, the last was Tempe Stanley Drew, born in Galle, Ceylon, in 1867.

Her mother died that same year, and Tempe was raised in the UK by her uncle Edward J. Boldero (formerly of the Bengal Civil Service) and aunt, Sibella Shedden Boldero (1832-1910). Sibella, incidentally, is a variant form of Greek sibylla, meaning prophetess or oracle; Tempe is derived from the Vale of Tempe, in Ancient Greek the favourite haunt of the Muses. Sibella was a witness at Tempe's first marriage in 1893.

Educated at St. Lawrence College, Ramsgate (1914-15), the now Stephen Richard Boldero trained at the Royal Military Academy and joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1916 before transferring on a short service commission to the Royal Air Force, making Pilot Officer in 1921 and Flying Officer in 1922. He served part of his time in India, from whence he returned in 1924, relinquishing his commission in April 1925 due to ill-health. By then he seems to have been twice married, firstly to Nellie P. Woodley in 2Q 1916 in Steyning, Sussex, with whom he had a son, Alistair J. Boldero, in 1917, and secondly to Eleanor Winifred Wise in 4Q 1926 in Chelsea, Middlesex. The latter marriage ended in divorce in 1934.

Whether he had an artistic bent earlier in life is unknown, but he certainly turned to painting in the 1930s. The earliest trace of his artistic talents I have been able to find relates to the introduction of mobile recruiting offices, via which the R.A.F. hoped to recruit 31,000 men ahead of the (increasingly inevitable) war. A report in The Times (15 July 1938) describes them thus:
The outside decoration of the new type of van has been carried out in two contrasting shades of blue, with the R.A.F. concardes of red, white and blue in the lower panelling on either side of the body. Two chromium-plated show windows display, in colour, representations of life in the R.A.F. at home and abroad. They have been carried out, in cut-out form, by Mr. S. R. Boldero, who has served with the R.A.F. The inside of the van is equipped as an office.
Boldero's cover artwork appeared regularly in the 1950s and 1960s, published by most of the leading paperback firms (Corgi, Digit, Arrow, Pan, Panther, Four Square, Consul). He also had a long association with Souvenir Press, producing numerous dust jackets.

Stephen Richard Boldero lived for many years (at least from 1957-82) at 39 Ranelagh Gardens, London W.6. He died in London in the summer of 1987, aged 89.


Arrow Books

481 * Wallace, Edgar * When the Gangs Came to London (Oct 1957)
499 * Firmin, Stanley * Murderers in Our Midst (May 1958)
547 * Wallace, Edgar * The Gunner (Jan 1960)
556 * Wheatley, Dennis * The Eunuch of Stamboul (Feb 1960)
560 * Wheatley, Dennis * Black August (Mar 1960)
580 * Wheatley, Dennis * Uncharted Seas (Aug 1960)
608 * Thomson, Christine Campbell * More Not At Night (1961)
??? * Proctor, Maurice * The Midnight Plumber (1966?)

Consul Books (World Distributors)

1107 * Shelley John C. * Cavalry Sergeant (Jan 1962)
1153 * Bonham, Frank * Defiance Mountain (Jun 1962)

Corgi Books

1031 * Roe, Vingie * West of Abiline (Jun 1955)
1115 * Haycox, Ernest * The Wild Bunch (Jul 1956)
T103 * Foster, Bennett * The Mustangers (1955)
T635 * Holmes, L. P. * The Plunderers (1959)

Digit Books (Brown Watson)

nn * "Blake" * Readiness at Dawn (Apr 1957)
nn * Foote, Alexander * Handbook for Spies (Nov 1956); reissued, R542 (Nov 1961)
nn * Hardy, Russ * Pack Train (Aug 1957)
nn * Howe, George * Decision Before Dawn (May 1957)
nn * Reynolds, Quentin * Seventy Thousand to One (Feb 1957)
nn * Schrire, I. * Stalag Doctor (Mar 1957)
nn * Vestal, Stanley * Send for Wyatt Earp (Mar 1957)
nn * Waldo, Dave * The Man from Thunder River (Jul 1957)

Four Square

328 Valentine, Victor * Cure For Death (1961)

Pan Books

415 Lustgarten, Edgar * Defender's Triumph (May 1957)
427 Tey, Josephine * Miss Pym Disposes (Jul 1957)
GP70 * Denti Di Parajno, Alberto * A Cure for Serpents (Jul 1957)
GP94 * Wheeler, Sir Mortimer * Still Digging (Jan 1958)
G109 * Marric, J. J. * Gideon's Day (Mar 1958)
G115 * Ambler, Eric * The Night-Comers (Apr 1958)
G146 * Macdonald, John Ross * Find a Victim (Aug 1958)
G309 * Carr, John Dickson * The Seat of the Scornful (Jan 1960)
? G330 * Hilton, James * Lost Horizon * (1960)
G363 * Ambler, Eric * Judgement on Deltchev (Jan 1961)
G403 * Lewis, C. S. * Out of the Silent Planet (1960)
G404 * Lewis, C. S. * Voyage to Venus (1961)
G421 * Lewis, C. S. * That Hideous Strength (1960)

G425 * Hogg, Garry * Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice (Jan 1961)
G463 * Clarke, Arthur C. * Childhood's End (1961)
G476 * Wallace, Edgar * Again Sanders (Jul 1961)
G495 * Upfield, Arthur * Bony and the Mouses (Sep 1961)
X12 * Queen, Ellery (Ed.) * Ellery Queen's Book of Mystery Stories (Jun 1957)
X26 * Smith, J. L. B. * Old Fourlegs (Sep 1958)
X27 * Phillips, Wendell * Sheba's Buried City (Sep 1958)
X67 * Van Thal, Herbert (Ed.) * The Second Pan Book of Horror Stories (Nov 1960)
X71 * Hitchcock, Alfred (Ed.) * Stories They Wouldn't Let Me Do On TV (Dec 1960)

Panther Books

512 Clifton, George C. * The Happy Hunted * (reissue)
648 Neave, Airey * Little Cyclone * (Mar 1957)

Pedigree Books

? nn * Michelet, Jules * Satanism and Witchcraft (May 1959)
nn * Gardner, Gerald B. * Witchcraft Today (1960)
nn * Verner, Gerald (Ed.) * Prince of Darkness (1960)


Hodder & Stoughton

nn * Oliver, Chad * The Wolf Is My Brother (1968)

Souvenir Press

nn * Derleth, August (Ed.) * When Evil Wakes (1963)
nn * Russell, Ray * The Case Against Satan (1963)
nn * Soubiran, Andre * The Good Dr Guillotin and His Strange Device (1964)
nn * Baker, Peter Gorton * The Antibodies (1969)
nn * Seymour, Alan * The Coming Self-Destruction of the United States of America (1969)
nn * O'Donnell, Peter * The Impossible Virgin (1971)
nn * Neely, Richard * The Walter Syndrome (1971)
nn * Michaels, Barbara * Greygallows (1974)

Cresselles Publishing, Henley-on-Thames

nn * Campbell, James * Bomber Stream Broken (1976)


Broxton's Silver Spur. A school story by Michael Poole. London, George Newnes, 1953. [as G. R. Boldero]
The Children's Jolly Book, with others. London, Odhams Press, c.1954.
The Treatment of Man by William Wiegand. London, Frederick Muller, 1960.


  1. Hi Steve, I do have an email address for S R Boldero's grandson if you want to check any of the information you have on him? John is currently trying to track down all the work of his grandfather! Cheers, Tim

  2. That would be welcome. If you don't want to make it public, send to my direct address - it's top left below the photo.

  3. I was delighted to be pointed in the direction of this website and all your great work researching S R Boldero. Stephen Boldero brought up my mother, Judy Horton, and I regarded him as my grandfather. He was the kindest and gentlest of men.

    After my grandmother's death, Stephen married Connie (I can't recall her surname) and they lived together in Ranelagh Gardens before moving to Glebe Close, London W4. Connie predeceased him by a few years.

    Amongst other things, mum inherited one of Stephen's wartime posters, a copy of which is also in the Imperial War Museum -

    I feel sure that he must have done some other wartime posters too but haven't looked into that yet. The IWM has it recorded as artist unknown, so I have emailed them Stephen's details.

    I have promised to scan some photos of Stephen for one of his relatives, so will send one to you for this website when I finally get round to doing that.



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