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Sunday, August 06, 2017

J Phillips Paterson

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

J. Phillips Paterson was a familiar name to readers of boys’ fiction, as an illustrator of hardback school and adventure stories in the 1920s and 1930s, but, like many of his contemporaries, he has always been a rather mysterious figure.

He was born in Warrington, Lancashire, in 1877, and christened James Phillips Paterson. His father, James (born in Berwick-on-Tweed in 1846), was a bank inspector. His mother, Hannah Phillips Longshaw (born in Warrington in 1847) was the daughter of a master brickmaker. James was the first of three children, with his brother William Ormiston Paterson being born in Warrington in 1879. Shortly after this the family moved to Dunfermline, in Scotland, where a third son, Thomas, was born in 1883.

At the time of the 1901 census the family was living at 31 High Street, Dunfermline, with James studying art. William was recorded as a Damask Designer, and Thomas as a bookseller. Three years later, on 29 February 1904, in Edinburgh, James married Jemima Fraser (born in Alloa, Scotland, in 1876). They later moved to London, where their first daughter, Hannah Evelyn, was born in Stoke Newington in 1904.  A second daughter, Charlotte Monica, was born in Limekilns, Fife, Scotland, in 1908.

The family later moved to Clapham, where, in 1911, they were living at 61 Elmhurst Mansions, Edgeley Road. By 1915 they had moved to 59 Bedford Road, Clapham  –  this was James’s address, on 11 December 1915, he enlisted as a Private in the Labour Corps, describing himself as a draughtsman, with his height recorded as 5 feet 3 inches. He seems to have been transferred to the Army Reserve, and he was subsequently called up in February 1917, joining the Queen’s Regiment (Royal West Surrey), with whom he remained until the end of the war, serving abroad with the British Expeditionary Force.

Exactly where Paterson studied art, and for how long, is not known. He was working as a “Painter and Black and White Artist” when the 1911 census was taken, although his earliest known published work is from 1922. He became particularly associated with the publishing firm of Thomas Nelson & Sons, providing illustrations for a number of boys’ school and adventure stories. Most of these had a coloured frontispiece and small black and white illustrations dotted about the text, rather than full-page black and white plates. One title worth noting is Slings Road by Tom Holland, published in 1931, and which, unusually for a boys’ school story, is set in an elementary school, to where a public school boy is sent after his father has lost all his money. Most of his illustrations, where they carried a signature, were signed “JPP.”

He also provided illustrations for a number of magazines between 1922 and 1926, including the Amalgamated Press’s The Yellow Magazine, The Red Magazine and The Crusoe Magazine, and George Newnes’ The Detective Magazine. In February and July 1929 he also provided colour plates – Ice Hockey in Canada and Baseball in the United States  –  that were given away free with The Boy’s Own Paper.

James Phillips Paterson remained at 59 Bedford Road, Clapham, until the late 1920s, when he moved to 14 Station Road, Spelthorne, Surrey, and then, in 1939, to 60 Tynemouth Drive, Enfield, Middlesex. His wife had died in Reigate, Surrey, in March 1928. He himself died, without leaving a will, in Edmonton in 1948, with his last illustrations appearing posthumously the following year.

He was not, it must be said, a particularly good artist, and his drawings were sometimes rather stilted, with unusual-looking characters. This may explain the comparatively small number of books he is credited with illustrating.


Books illustrated by J. Phillips Paterson
The Copper Urn by Amy Grey, S.P.C.K., 1922
The Hope of His House by R.A.H. Goodyear, T. Nelson & Sons, 1926
The Surprising Holidays by E.M. Channon, Sheldon Press, 1926
Who Goes There? by Harold Avery, T. Nelson & Sons, 1927   
Day Boy Colours by Harold Avery, T. Nelson & Sons, 1928
The Penalty Area by Stanley Morris, T. Nelson & Sons, 1928
Stories of the Apostles and Evangelists by L.C. Streatfield, A.R Mowbray & Co., 1929
The Ivory Idol by Hugh F. Frame, T. Nelson & Sons, 1930
Bully Austin by Tom Holland, T. Nelson & Sons, 1930           
Slings Road by Tom Holland, T. Nelson & Sons, 1931
The Cruise of the Air Yacht Silver Cloud by Rowland Walker, T. Nelson & Sons, 1931           
The Senior Prefect by Stanley Morris, T. Nelson & Sons, 1932   
The Eye of the Peacock by Oliver Barton, T. Nelson & Sons     1932   
The Cock-House Cup by Harold Avery, 1933
The Treasure of San Jacinto by Frank Riley, T. Nelson & Sons, 1933
Adventurous Women by Eleanor Scott, T. Nelson & Sons, 1933
Seconds Out by L.C. Douthwaite, T. Nelson & Sons, 1934   
Anne of the Veld by Marjorie Bevan, T. Nelson & Sons, 1934
The Glory of Greystone by John L. Roberts, T. Nelson & Sons, 1935
The Aztec Treasure by J.H. Newton, T. Nelson & Sons 1936
The Eye of the Earth by Lennox Ker, T. Nelson & Sons, 1936
Tales of St. Cedric's by L.C. Douthwaite, T. Nelson & Sons, 1937
Brown’s £50,000 Mystery by Michael Poole, O.U.P., 1937       
Through Thick and Thin by Harold Avery, T. Nelson & Sons, 1938
The Golden Mirage by C.B. Rutley, Blackie & Son, 1938
In Quest of Pedro’s Treasure by S. Beresford Lucas, T. Nelson & Sons 1939
The Man from Outside by L.C. Douthwaite, T. Nelson & Sons, 1940
Camp Contact by Edwin Newbold Bradley, T. Nelson & Sons, 1941
Lightweight Honours by James Kenyon, T. Nelson & Sons, 1947
The Runswick Treasure by George Newman, T. Nelson & Sons, 1949

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