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Sunday, August 20, 2017

W H C Groome

W.H.C. GROOME
By
Robert J Kirkpatrick

W.H.C. Groome was one of the most prolific children’s book illustrators of his era, while also being a highly skilled and respected watercolour artist. Surprisingly, perhaps, he appears to have been entirely self-taught.

He was born on 17 November 1854 at 10 St. Ann’s Place, Westminster, and baptised, as William Henry Charles Groome, on 10 December 1854 at St. Stephen’s Church, Westminster. His family background was fairly humble – his father, William Charles Groome (1823-1900) was a waiter, and the son of a carpenter; his mother, Frances (neé Timpson, 1818-1868) was a cook working in Charing Cross, the daughter of a worker on the Earl of Westmoreland’s estate at Apethorpe, Northamptonshire. They had married in the church of St. Martin’s in the Fields, Westminster, in February 1852. William Henry Charles was the first of three children –  his sister Ann Elizabeth was born in 1857 (died 1946), and his brother Frederick was born in 1860, and died a year later. His mother died in 1868.

By the age of 17, Groome was working as a barrister’s clerk, living with his father at 40 Maiden Lane, Westminster. He married Eliza Horner, born in London at Somers Town on 31 March 1850, and baptised at St. Pancras Church, Camden, on 29 April 1850, the daughter of William, a traveller, and his wife Ann), on 14 August 1878 at St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn. She was a single parent, having had a daughter, Ann Ellen (or Ellen Ann), in September 1868  –  in the baptism register, the name of Ann Ellen’s father has been rubbed out.

At the time of the 1881 census, William and Eliza were living at 9 Hereford Road, Marylebone, with William still working as a barrister’s clerk. His sister Ann, a housemaid and domestic servant, was living with him, along with his wife’s daughter Ellen. William and Eliza had already had the first of their three children, Edith Frances, born in Luddington, Northamptonshire on 22 September 1879 (when the family was visiting relatives);  they went on to have two more, Arthur Francis, born in Bayswater, London, on 11 June 1882, and Leslie, born in Ealing on 12 May 1884.

By then, Groome had already begun making a name for himself as an artist, exhibiting at the 1883 and 1884 exhibitions of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours in Piccadilly. His first book illustrations appear to have been commissioned in around 1888, and by the time of the 1891 census, when he was living at 31 Denmark Road, Ealing (having moved from an earlier address at 2 Arlington Road, Castle Hill Park Ealing) he was describing himself as a “black and white artist and sculptor,” although he did not establish himself as a regular book illustrator until the mid-1890s. He then became particularly associated with the publishers Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., and, in particular, W. & R. Chambers, for whom he illustrated at least 10 boys’ adventure stories by George Manville Fenn. Other publishers he worked for included S.W. Partridge & Co., the Religious Tract Society, and Thomas Nelson & Sons (for whom he illustrated reprints of several books by R.M. Ballantyne). More notably, he was chosen to illustrate eight books by Charles Dickens when they were re-issued in a uniform set by Collins in 1907.

Throughout the 1890s he also provided illustrations for a variety of periodicals, including The Children’s Friend, The Mother’s Companion, The Friendly Visitor (all published by S.W. Partridge & Co.), The Boy’s Own Paper, The Boys’ Sunday Monthly, The Girl’s Own Paper, Sunday at Home (all published by the Religious Tract Society), Chums, Little Folks (both published by Cassell & Co.), Boys (published by Sampson Low, Marston & Co..), and The Illustrated London News.  In 1892, he designed a set of Christmas cards for the art publisher Hildesheimer & Faulkner. He signed his work either “WHC Groome” or simply “WHCG.” His early illustrations were often well-executed but static, whereas later he became adept at capturing moments of action and drama, with lots of movement .

By 1901, and living at 78 Coldershaw Road, Ealing, Groome was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists and had exhibited at the Royal Academy. (In contrast, his two sons, Arthur and Leslie, were both working as railway clerks). By then, having moved to Ealing in 1884, he had immersed himself in local politics, joining the Liberal Party and becoming a long-standing member of the Council (although his first term in office ended because of ill-health). He served on the Baths, Fire Brigade, Works, Highways, General Purposes, Housing and Library Committees. By 1911, he was the Vice-President of the Ealing Liberal and Radical Association.

He remained at Coldershaw Road for the rest of his life. In October 1913, in poor health, he and his wife went to stay at 9 Grafton Street, Brighton, in the hope that the sea air would help him recover, but he died there, of a cerebral haemorrhage, on 14 October. He was buried in the Westminster Cemetery in Hanwell, Ealing  –  his gravestone bears the simple inscription “He did his best.” He left an estate valued at just over £419 (around £40,000 in today’s terms). His wife died in Hendon, Middlesex, on 1 July 1931.

PUBLICATIONS

Illustrated Books
When I’m a Man, or Little Saint Christopher by Alice Webber, Griffith, Farran & Co., 1888
The King’s Daughter by “Pansy” (i.e. I.A. Alden), S.W. Partridge & Co., 1888
The King’s Diadem by Annie Gray, Sunday School Union, 1890
The Sound of the Streets by Robert J.L. O’Reilly, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1892
John’s Lily by Eleanor C. Price, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1894
The New Housemaster by Charles Edwardes, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1895
Battles of the Nineteenth Century by Archibald Forbes, etc., Cassell & Co., 1895
Sweetheaet Travellers by S.R. Crockett, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1895
This and That and Other Chat: A Charming Illustrated Alphabet in Rhyme by (anon.), (with other artists), W.B. Conkey Co., 1895
The South Sea Whaler by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1896
The Austin Prize by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1896
The Silver Flagon by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1896
Vince the Rebel, or The Sanctuary in the Bog by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1897
The Fortunes of the Charlton Family by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1898
Nic Revel: A White Slave’s Adventures in Allihator Land by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1898
Billy Binks, Hero by Guy Boothby, W. & R. Chambers, 1898   
Stories for Children in Illustration of the Lord’s Prayer by Mrs Molesworth, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1898
Dash and Daring, Being Stories by G.A. Henty and Others, W. & R. Chambers, 1898
The Girls of St. Wode’s by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1898
Draw Swords! In the Horse Artillery by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1898
Fix Bay’nets! Or The Regiment in the Hills by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1899
Cyril the Foundling: A Tale of the Puritans and Cavaliers by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1899
Ilsa the Windchild by Dora C. Jellett, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1899
Rags and Tatters: A Story for Boys and Girls by Stella Austin, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1899
Sunny Stories of the Sea by (Anon.), Ernest Nister, 1899
In Doors and Out: A Book of Pictures and Stories for Little Folk, Blackie & Son, 1899
Charge! or Briton and Boer By George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1900
Fine Gold, or Ravenswood Courtenay by Emma Marshall, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1900?
Sylvia’s Romance by Marion Andrews, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1900
Some Ups and Downs by Raymond Jacberns, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1900
The Story of Johnny Bertram by D.B. McKean, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1900
Brownie by Amy Le Feuvre, Hodder & Stoughton, 1900
In Lionland: The Story of Livingstone and Stanley by M. Douglas, T. Nelson & Sons, 1900
The Crew of the “Jolly Sandboy” by Julia Hack, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1900
Laura Richmond by Jean Ingelow, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1901
The Gold that Perisheth by David Lyall, Religious Tract Society, 1901
Stumps: A Story for Children by Stella Austin, Wells Gardner, Darton & Col., 1901 (re-issue)
Sunny Days for Boys and Girls  1901(?)
Stan Lynn: A Boy’s Adventures in China by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1902
All Astray: The Travels and Adventures of Two Cherubs by Ascott R. Hope, A. & C. Black, 1902
Great-Grandmother’s Shoes: A Story for Children by Stella Austin, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1902
Pixie O’Shaughnessy by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Religious Tract Society, 1902
Fred Malcolm and His Friends by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1902
Brave and True and Other Stories, Written by G. Manville Fenn etc., Ernest Nister, 1902
Afar in the Forest: A Tale of Adventure in North America by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1903 (re-issue)
A Gay Charmer: A Story for Girls by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1903
The Constable’s Stories by Flora Schmalz, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1903
A Family of Girls by Raymond Jacberns, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1903
Fred Malcolm and His Friends by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1903
Walsh the Wonder-Worker by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1903
Hilda at School by Mary Macleod, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1903
Belle’s Little Evangel by P.A. Blyth, Religious Tract Society, 1903
Black Polyanthus, and Widow Maclean by Jean Ingelow, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co. 1903
More About Pixie by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Religious Tract Society, 1903
“Viva Christina!” The Adventures of a Young Scot with the British Legion by E.E. Cowper, W. & R. Chambers, 1904
The Child of the Lighthouse: A Tale of the Great War by Marion Andrews, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co. 1904
The Gold Snuff-Box by Andrew W. Arnold, W. & R. Chambers, 1904
A Thoughtless Seven by Amy Le Veuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1904
His Little Daughter by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1904
Hazard and Heroism, Being Stories told by G.A. Henty etc., W. & R. Chambers, 1904
Aunt Martha’s Corner Cupboard by Mary & Elizabeth Kirby, T. Nelson & Sons, 1904 (re-issue)
Terraweena: A Story of a Mid-winter Vacation in Australia by A.G. Allanson, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1905
Steady and Strong: Stories told by G.A. Henty etc., W. & R. Chambers, 1905
Draw Swords! In the Horse Artillery by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1905
Shoulder Arms! A Tale of two Soldiers’ Sons by George Manville Fenn, W. & R. Chambers, 1905
Angela’s Brother by Eleanore H. Stooke, Religious Tract Society, 1905
Three Little Conspirators by Helen Beaumont, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1905
Rienzi, The Last of the Tribunes by Edward Bulwer Lytton, Collins, 1905
On the Banks of the Amazon by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1905(?)
Old Jack by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1906
The Empire’s Children by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1906
Foray and Fight by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1906
A Sea Queen’s Sailing by Charles W. Whistler, T. Nelson & Sons, 1906
Chrissie’s Confirmation by Evelyn Hunt, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1906
The Dove in the Eagle’s Nest by Charlotte M. Yonge, Collins, 1906(?) (re-issue)
Faith’s Home by (Anon.), Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1907
That Imp Marcella by Raymond Jacberns, W. & R. Chambers, 1907
The Fortunes of the Farrells by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Religious Tract Society, 1907
The Mystery of Coxfolly by Phoebe Allen, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1908
Baby Bob by Evleyn Whitaker, W. & R. Chambers, 1908
Dick Cheveley by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1908 (re-issue)
The Good Sword Belgarde, or How De Burgh Held Dover by Albert Charles Curtis,    Hodder & Stoughton, 1908
His First Term: A Story of Slapton School by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1909
A Trip to Mars by Fenton Ash, W. & R. Chambers, 1909
Us, and Our Donkey by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1909
Ballads of Famous Fights Hodder & Stoughton, 1909
In the Land of the Moose, the Bear, and the Beaver by Achilles Daunt, T. Nelson & Sons, 1909(?)
Follow My Leader by Talbot Baines Reed, Cassell & Co. 1910 (re-issue)
A Little Listener by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1910
Heroes of the Polar Seas by John Kennedy MacLean, W. & R. Chambers, 1910
A Schoolgirl’s Battlefield by Raymond Jacberns, W. & R. Chambers, 1910
The Boys’ Holiday Book, Henry Frowde; Hodder & Stoughton, 1910
The Red Book for Boys Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1910
Brother Scouts by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1911
Charlie Wilson’s Prophecy by Alfred J. Glasspool, T. Nelson & Sons, 1911
Blair of Balaclava: A Hero of the Light Brigade by Escott Lynn, W. & R. Chambers, 1911
Teddy and Lily’s Adventures by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1911
Christie’s Old Organ or “Home Sweet Home” by O.F. Walton, Religious Tract Society, 1911 (re-issue)
Talford’s Last Term by Harold Avery, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1912
Little Heroine: The Story of a Lost Medal by Brenda Girvin, W.W. Partridge & Co., 1912
A Cavalier of Fortune by Escott Lynn, W. & R. Chambers, 1912
The Captain of the King’s Guard by E. Hamilton Currey, W. & R. Chambers, 1912
Us, and Our Empire by AmyLe Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1912
A Boy Scout in the Balkans by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1912
Stories of Adventure, by G. Manville Fen etc., Ernest Nister, 1912
Who Conquers? Or A Schoolboy’s Honour by Florence Bone, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1913
Moll Meredith, Madcap by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1913
A College Girl by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Religious Tract Society, 1913
Laddie’s Choice by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1913
“Toot-Toot” The Story of a Little Girl and Boy Who Were Carried Away in a Magic Motor Car by G.R. Bennett, Schofield & Sims, (?)
Aunt Louisa’s Jumble Picture Book, Frederick Warne & Co., (?)
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes, W. & R. Chambers, (?) (re-issue)
Schoolboy Days by W.H.G. Kingston, Hutchinson & Co., (?) (re-issue of Ernest Bracebridge, or Schoolboy Days)
The Poetical Works of Robert Browning, Collins, (?)

Reprints of novels by Charles Dickens – published by Collins, 1907
Hard Times
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
David Copperfield
Bleak House
The Old Curiosity Shop
Little Dorritt
Dombey and Son
Master Humphrey’s Clock and Pictures from Italy

Reprints of novels by R.M. Ballantyne – published by T. Nelson & Sons
The Young Fur-Traders
The Eagle Cliff
Hudson Bay, or Everyday Life in North America
The Gorilla Hunters: A Tale of the Wilds of Africa
Ungava: A Tale of Esquimaux Land
The Coral Island
The World of Ice
The Dog Crusoe: A Tale of the Western Prairies        

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