Saturday, July 08, 2017

G W Goss

An enquiry arrived from David Redd this week asking if I knew anything about artist G. W. Goss. The name wasn't familiar, but I've managed to scrape together a little about this interesting artist.

To collectors, his name is probably best known for his covers of Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Although not the first British artist to produce covers for Tarzan novels, he was a regular Burroughs' artist for Methuen in the 1920s. According to ERBzine, he was the first dustjacket artist for only one title: Tarzan the Terrible in 1921; mostly, he produced dustjackets for reprint editions. his covers including Tarzan of the Apes, The Return of Tarzan, The Son of Tarzan and The Girl from Hollywood.

As well as dustjackets, Goss was also a prolific illustrator of books for children in the 1920s and 1930s. He also provided illustrations to Little Folks, Cassell's Magazine and The Wide World Magazine, and produced a series of humorous postcards featuring cats and dogs.

He was born Geoffrey Walter Goss in Battersea, London, on 10 January 1901, the son of Walter Goss (1832-1926), a piano teacher, and his second wife Christine Elizabeth Mary (nee Saunders, 1871-1956). Walter Goss had four children from his first marriage; three years after Arabella Goss died in 1895, her husband, at the age of 65, married 27-year-old Christine and went on to have three more children.

In 1938, at the age of 37, Geoffrey Goss was married to 18-year-old Patricia Tyson, who trained as a watercolourist and illustrator.

In 1944, Goss painted a portrait of Victor Roy Smith, President of the Canadian Art Club, who was visiting London from Toronto, Canada. It was perhaps this meeting that inspired his move soon after.

In 1947, Goss – then of 14 Copshall Gardens, Mill Hill, London NW7 – took his family to Canada, continuing to work as a commercial artist in Toronto. An early commission was a series of 'Vacations Unlimited' travel posters for the Canadian Government Travel Bureau promoting Canada as a holiday destination. His work in the 1960s included books for a number of religious groups, including illustrations for The War Cry.

During this period, he and Patricia lived at 206 Dundas, Halton, Ontario [fl.1957/62], 328 Trafalgar Road, Halton, Ontario [fl.1963/68]. After raising four children, Patricia began working as a teacher at the National Ballet School in Toronto, retiring in 1990 after 25 years. She was recently interviewed by the Toronto Globe and Mail (3 July 2015), discussing how she took up sculpture after retiring from teaching.

The interview notes that Geoffrey Goss had passed away, as had two of their four children, although the date has not been established.


No Kidding. London, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1947.

Book Illustrations
A Fourth Form Rebel by Christine Chaundler. London, Nisbet, 1922.
Jan of the Fourth by Christine Chaundler. London, Nisbet, 1923.
The Last Lap: A School Story by Walter Rhoades. London, Humphrey Milford, 1923.
Judy the Tramp by Christine Chaundler. London, Nisbet, 1924.
Winning Her Colours by Christine Chaundler. London, Nisbet, 1924.
Winnie O'Wynn and the Dark Horses by Bertram Atkey. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1925.
The Whip Hand: A School Story by Walter Rhoades. London, Blackie & Son, 1925.
Dr. Jolliffe's Boys: A Tale of Weston School by Lewis Hough. London, Blackie & Son, 1925.
The Boys of the "Puffin": A Sea Scout Yarn by Percy F. Westerman. London, Partridge, 1925.
Over the Hills and Far Away by May Wynne. London, Children's Companion Office, 1925?
Dare-All Jack and the Cousins by May Wynne. London, Children's Companion Office, 1925?
The Honour of A Guide by E.M. Channon. London, Nisbet, 1926.
Averil's Ambition by Kathleen Willcox. London, Nisbey, 1927.
Just What I Like. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1932.
The Enemy in the Midst by Captain K. Maclure. London, Sheldon Press, 1932. [frontispiece]
The Sun Will Shine by May Edginton. London, Odhams Press, 1933. [dustjacket]
Midbourne School by Edith Miles. London, Sheldon Press, 1933.
Up in the Air. London & Glasgow, Blackie & Son, 1935.
The Devil of Saxon Wall by Gladys Mitchell. London, Grayson, 1935. [dustjacket]
What Katy Did at School by Susan Coolidge. London, W. Foulsham & Co., 1935. [dustjacket]
Peter Simple from the story by Captain Marryat, retold and edited by Constance M. Martin. London, Philip & Tacey Ltd., 1940.
Peter and Tim on the Trail by T. Barton Brown. London, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1945.
Murder in Havana by George Harmon Coxe. London, Hammond & Co., 1945. [dustjacket]
The Magic Bicycle by F. R. Evison. London, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1946.
Fishing in a Cinch: With the Inquiring Angler in Ontario and Quebec by David Reddick. Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1950.
Farmyard Friends: Magic Hidden Colour Painting Book. London, Juvenile Productions, 1951?
Lexy O'Connor by Audrey McKim. Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1953.
The Barley and the Stream. The Molson Story by Merrill Denison. Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1955.
Outdoor Rambles by Stuart L. Thompson. Toronto, Longmans, Green & Co., 1956.
A Carp Water (Wood Pool) and How to Fish It by "B.B.". London, Putnam, 1958.
Anything Could Happen by Phyllis Brett Young. Toronto, Longmans, Green & Co., 1961.
Ma-Kee. The Life and Death of a Muskellunge by David Reddick. Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1962; as The Mighty Muskellunge, New York, Dod Mead, 1962.
God is Always With Us by Audrey McKim. Toronto, United Church Publishing House, 1964.
Adventure in Antigua by Ross Darling. Toronto, The Anglican Church of Canada, 1967.
The Architecture of Rural Society by Samuel Henry Prince. Toronto, The Anglican Church of Canada, n.d. (1960s?)


  1. Thanks for this. Add to the list of books he illustrated 'Averil's Ambition' by Kathleen Willcox, published by Nisbet in 1927.

  2. GW Goss, his wife and daughter were living with my 2x great grandpa Alfred Talmer in The Lee, Bucks in 1939 (as documented in the 1939 Register). Thank you very much for pulling his bio together.

    1. I have a copy of No Kidding by Geoffrey Goss. I noticed he dedicated the book 'to Anna'. I also found him in the 1939 register with his daughter, Anna, and then discovered that she sadly died in 1942 aged 2. I was glad to find this bio as very hard to find out much about him.



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