Sunday, August 13, 2017

H L Bacon

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

H.L. Bacon was one of three brothers who were all artists, although he was by far the best-known, in particular for his illustrations for several re-issues of girls’ school stories by Angela Brazil, and for his illustrations for several other boys’ and girls’ novels.

His parents were John Cardinall Bacon (1833–1905), a lithographic artist, born in Wivenhoe, Essex, and Rosa Clementina Gertrude Sarah Wilkins (1840–1912), who had married in Hackney, London, in 1861. He was born on 5 November 1875 in Lambeth, and christened Henry James Lynch Bacon. (Whether there was any family relationship with the Irish artist James Henry Lynch, born in 1803 and died in 1868, is not known). He was the 7th of 10 children  –  at the time of the 1881 census, the family was living in Islington, with his siblings Rosa, Edward and John, aged 17, 16 and 15 respectively, all recorded as art students.

Shortly after the census was taken the family moved to 2 Cathcart Hill, Kentish Town. Ten years later, the family was living at 43 St. Johns Park, Islington  –  John and Edward were still working as artists, with Henry still at school.

In July 1900 Henry was awarded a scholarship, worth £50 a year, for two years, by the British Institution to the Royal College of Art (noted in The Morning post, 27 July 1900). This explains why, in the 1901 census, he was recorded as a “National Art Scholar”, living with his parents at 17 Milton Avenue, Hornsey.

After leaving the Royal Academy, he began a career as a portrait painter and commercial artist. In 1914, in Kensington, he married Margaret Jane Jameson (born in Edinburgh in 1876), who was herself an artist and art teacher, working for the London County Council Arts and Crafts School, and living in Chelsea with her widowed mother. At the time, Henry was listed in the Electoral Register as living at 23 Fitzroy Square, St. Pancras (between 1909 and 1917)  –  however, he appears to have been absent on the night of the 1911 census, with two unrelated households occupying rooms at that address.

In 1918 he was registered at 24 Maitland Park Villas, St. Pancras, which is where he appears to have remained until at least 1939. In that year’s Register (taken as a result of the threat of war) he was listed as an artist, book illustrator and advertising salesman. He died at 28 Church Crescent, Muswell Hill, on 25 April 1948, leaving an estate valued at just over £685 (£21,000 in today’s terms). His wife died in Wandsworth in June 1971.

As an artist and illustrator, he worked for a number of publishers, including S.W. Partridge & Co, Frederick Warne & Co., and Blackie & Son. His earliest known work was published in 1902, in Cassell’s Magazine, with his first book illustrations appearing in 1906. He may well have served in the forces during the First World War, as there appears to have been nothing published by him between 1915 and 1925, although there are no online service records for a Henry James Lynch Bacon (although there are plenty for a Henry or an H. Bacon).  It is known that, in the 1920s, he produced advertising illustrations for Three Nuns tobacco and for Turf cigarettes, and that he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1919, 1920 and 1921. He signed his illustrations “Henry L. Bacon, “H.L. Bacon” or simply “H.L.B.” It is also known that he worked primarily as a portrait artist, so his work as an illustrator was more of a sideline than his bread and butter. Rather strangely, he provided new illustrations for reprints of several Angela Brazil books in the 1930s  –  why this was deemed necessary by the publisher, Blackie & Son, remains a mystery.

* * * * *

Henry’s brother John Henry Frederick Bacon also illustrated children’s books, although he was better-known as a prolific painter  –  of religious works, portraits, hist6orical and family scenes. He was born in Newington, South London, in 1865, and trained at the Westminster School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. In 1883 he began a painting tour of India and Burma, and on his return to England in 1887 he entered the Royal Academy Schools  –  he went on to become a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy, and in 1903 he was elected as an Associate member. In 1894, in Evesham, Worcestershire, he married Mary Elizabeth White (born in Broadway, Worcestershire in 1868), and the couple lived for a while at Pillar House, Harwell, Berkshire (now in Oxfordshire). They went on to have seven children. They later moved to 25 St. John’s Wood Road, St. Marylebone, and then to 11 Queens Gate Terrace, Kensington, where John Henry Frederick died of acute bronchitis on 24 January 1914.

As an illustrator, he contributed to several magazines between the mid-1890s and 1910, including The Girl’s Own Paper, Black and White, The Quiver, The Ludgate Monthly, Cassell’s Magazine/Cassell’s Family Magazine, The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and The Windsor Magazine. Amongst the children’s books he illustrated were Nell’s Schooldays by H.F. Gethen (Blackie & Son, 1898), Mobsley’s Mohicans by Harold Avery (T. Nelson & Sons, 1900); and a reissue of Tom Brown’s Schooldays (Blackie & Son, 1904). He also illustrated, in conjunction with other artists, several books of Shakespeare’s works; re-issues of some of Charles Dickens’s novels; and titles such as A Land of Heroes: Stories from Early Irish History by W. Lorcan O’Byrne (Blackie & Son, 1900), and Pharos, The Egyptian by Guy Boothby.

Amongst his most famous paintings were The Wedding Morning (1892), bought by Lord Leverhulme from the Royal Academy for use as an advert for Sunlight Soap;  The City of London Imperial Volunteers Return to London from South Africa (1902), now hanging in the Guildhall; The Homage-Giving, Westminster Abbey, 9th August 1902 (1903), now in the National Portrait Gallery; and The Coronation of King George V (1911), now in the Royal Collection and hanging in the palace of Westminster.

The third brother, Edward Bacon, born in Lambeth in 1865, was also an artist, recorded as such in the census returns for 1891, 1901 and 1911 (when he was living at 38 Wellesley Road, Chiswick, working as a “fashion artist”). He had married in around 1899, and had three children. However, nothing more seems to be known about him  –  what he illustrated, nor where and when he died.


Books Illustrated
Manisty of the School House by A.L. Haydon, Frederick Warne & Co., 1906
The Ironmaster’s Daughter by Alice M. Diehl, Cassell & Co., 1906
Molly: The Story of a Wayward Girl by Harriet E. Colvile, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1906
A Lost Summer by Theo Douglas, Cassell & Co., 1907
Stories of Old: A Book of Bible Stories by Charles D, Michael, James Clarke & Co., 1907
Playing the Game by Kent Carr, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1908
The Ways of a Girl, or The Story of One Year by M.F. Hutchinson, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1908
Not Out! By Kent Carr, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1909   
Double Bonds by Florinda McCall, Cassell & Co., 1909
Blind Hopes by Helen Wallace, Cassell & Co., 1909
A Schoolboy’s Honour, or The Lost Pigeons by Ethel Lindsay, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1910
Tell Me the Old, Old Story by Edith Robarts, Cassell & Co., 1910
Best of Friends by Fox Russell, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1910
For Sunday: Bible Stories for Little Folks by Edith Roberts, Cassell & Co., 1910
The Doings of Dick and Dan by Sir James Yoxall, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1911
Adam Bede by George Eliot, S.W. Partridge & Co., (re-issue)   1911?
Basil Verely: A Study in Charterhouse Life by Archibald Ingram, George Allen & Co., 1912   
St. Winifred's, or The World of School by F.W. Farrar, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1912 (re-issue)
Sunday and Every-Day Reading for the Young by    Wells Gardner, Darton & Co. 1914
The Starling by Norman McLeod, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1915
Julian Home: A Tale of College Life by F.W. Farrar, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1915? (re-issue)
Tomboy Tony by Christine Chaundler, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1924
To Save Her School by Bessie Marchant, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1925
The Luck of Dolorous Tower by E.M. Ward, Frederick Warne, 1926
Sleepy Saunders by Rowland Walker, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1927   
Schooldays at Beverley by Jessie L. Herbertson, Collins, 1927
Peggy Makes Good by Elsie Jeanette Oxenham, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1927
Loyalty Bob, or One of Cromwell’s Kinsmen by Walter Copeland, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1927
Miss Honor’s Form by E.C. Matthews, Blackie & Son, 1928
The Latimer Scholarship by Olivia Fowell, Blackie & Son, 1929
The Skipper of the Team by A.L. Haydon, Frederick Wartne & Co., 1930
A Little Brown Mouse by Madame Albanesi, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1931
The Hon. Master Jinx by Rowland Walker, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1933   
The Island Camp by Margaret Middleton, Blackie & Son, 1935

Undated re-issues of Angela Brazil books (originally illustrated by others)
The Madcap of the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
Loyal to the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
The Nicest Girl in the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
A Fortunate Term by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
A Popular Schoolgirl by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
The Girls of St. Cyprian’s by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son
The Youngest Girl in the Fifth by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son

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