Sunday, September 10, 2017

Francis E Hiley

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Like many illustrators of late 19th/early 20th century children’s books, Francis E. Hiley is now more or less forgotten. But in his time he was a prolific, accomplished and popular artist.

He was born on 12 February 1878, with his birth being registered at Barton Regis, Gloucestershire – he was christened Francis Ernest Hiley. His mother was Emma Jane, née Hancock, born in Bedminster, Bristol, in 1850. His father was Edward Ernest Hiley, born in Islington, London, in 1850. In the 1850s, the family moved to Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucestershire, where, in 1871, Edward was working as a commercial clerk, alongside his two brothers. Shortly after Francis’s birth the family moved to London, to 59 Windsor Road, Ealing, where Edward became the manager of a glass works. However, his health began to decline, and in around 1889 the family moved to Knapp Hill, Wells, Somerset  –  in the 1891 census, Edward was described as living on his own means, with a family of eight and two servants. In 1893 the family moved to Ebbor Cottage, Wookey Hole, Somerset, where they remained until 1919. In the 1911 census Edward was described as a retired looking-glass manufacturer. He died in Axbridge, Somerset, in 1927.

Francis was the second of seven children – his siblings were Edward Montague (born 1877, died of diphtheria in 1883), Florence Ernestine (born 1880), Harold Gladstone (1881), Eveline (1883), Mary Gladys (1885), and Wilfred Edward (1886). He only had a minimal education, firstly at a kindergarten, after which he was home-schooled by a governess and, more importantly, by his father. His main interest, apart from literature, was art, and in September 1891, aged just 13, he was awarded a certificate for freehand drawing and perspective as an external candidate by the Bath School of Science and Art. He regularly appeared thereafter in local newspapers as having been awarded further certificates, for example at the Kensington Government School of Science and Art, Berkeley Square, Bristol, in 1894; and at the Government School of Science and Art, Weston-super-Mare, in 1895, 1896, 1897 and 1898, where he had been lucky enough to get a post as a pupil-teacher on a salary of £15 a year and free tuition.  He also brought in a further £15 a year teaching drawing in a couple of private schools. In 1898 he obtained a small scholarship to the Bristol Academy of Art, and in 1899 he was awarded a three year scholarship, worth £60 a year, to the Royal College of Art.

He was clearly skilled in several disciplines, as shown by a report in the Wells Journal in March 1897:
At the annual meeting of the subscribers and friends of the School of Science and Art, Weston-super-Mare, prizes were distributed to successful students. In this list Mr Francis E. Hiley, of Wookey Hole, held a distinguished position, being awarded a bronze medal for landscape paining; prize for architectural drawing; pass (excellent) in anatomy, architecture, and advanced freehand; 1st class in perspective, advanced model, advanced light and shade, decorative paining and design, advanced stage; 2nd class in still life painting and advanced principles of ornament; Art-class teacher’s certificate.
After qualifying as an Associate of the Royal College of Art Hiley worked for a year as an assistant in the studio of Gerald Moire, the Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy Schools. He then joined the London County Council, as a part-time drawing teacher in central London schools, and later at the Putney School of Art. Whilst he had a desire to work in stained glass, which he had studied at the Royal Academy, he found the field to be too competitive, and he turned to black and white illustrations which, though poorly-paid, provided a regular source of income. In a brief unpublished autobiography covering his early years he described “spending a dreary time haunting the offices of publishers and magazines.”

For a while, up until his marriage, Hiley shared a flat in Redcliffe Street, Chelsea, with Luke Thompson Taylor, who was becoming well-known as an etcher and went on to become a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers. On 25 July 1907, at the Wesleyan Church, Edmonton, London, he married May Winifred Hiley (the daughter of G. Gould Hiley, Francis’s father’s cousin), born in Karachi, India, in 1883. They moved into a flat at 20 Cyril Mansions, Prince of Wales Road, Battersea, where they had their first child, Stephen Gould Hiley, born on 12 November 1911. In 1913 the family moved to 14 Fairfax Road, Bedford Park, London, and Hiley was able to abandon teaching in order to work full-time as an illustrator.

On 17 July 1916 Hiley enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps, being promoted to Corporal in November 1917, and in April 1918 being transferred to the Royal Air Force, with the rank of Sergeant. He worked principally as a draughtsman at Farnborough. Ten months later, he was transferred to the RAF Reserve, and he was discharged from service on 30 April 1920.

He returned to illustration, initially drawing men’s fashion plates, and also took on a little teaching. In 1923 he began contributing to The Strand Magazine, and was subsequently taken on by an artists’ agent.

At some point after the war, the family moved to Brentford, Middlesex, where their second son, Oliver Gould Hiley, was born on 10 June 1920. They subsequenrly moved to Stag Lane, Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire, where they stayed for at least 15 years. They later moved to Westbury-on-Trym. During the Second World War, Hiley worked as a draughtsman at the Bristol Aeroplane Company.

May Winifred Hiley died on 7 November 1958 at an address in Redhill, although her home address was given as Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire. Francis Hiley spent his later years in Hampstead and then Redhill, with his last address being White Lodge, Linkfield Lane. He died, after a short illness, at the East Surrey Hospital, Redhill, on 20 December 1965, leaving an estate valued at £13,258. He was cremated at the Sussex and Surrey Crematorium, Worth, Sussex, three days later.

As an illustrator of children’s books he was most associated with the publishers Jarrold & Sons, Blackie & Son, Ward, Lock & Co. and the Religious Tract Society. Amongst the authors whose books he illustrated were John Mackie, Bessie Marchant, R.A.H. Goodyear, St. John Pearce, Evelyn Smith and Angela Brazil. His work also occasionally appeared in magazines and newspapers, most notably in The Strand Magazine for which he provided a total of 53 illustrations for stories by Arthur Conan Doyle between 1925 and 1930. He also contributed a few illustrations to Pearson’s Magazine, The Wide World, The Windsor Magazine and The Red Magazine. He signed his work Francis E. Hiley, F.E. Hiley or simply F.E.H.


Books Illustrated
Little Miss, or Leslie Underwood’s Fortune by M.B. Manwell (Religious Tract Society), 1910 (re-issue)
Miss Determination by Frances Toft (Religious Tract Society), 1910
The Brig Jane Mary by Francis Marlowe (Jarrold & Sons), 1911
The Treasure Hunters by John Mackie (Jarrold & Sons), 1911
The Dream of Gerontius by John Henry Newman (Gay & Hancock), 1911
Scholars and Scouts by Ernest Protheroe (Jarrold & Sons), 1912
The Birds’ Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin (Gay & Hancock), 1912
Crookside Lads by A.M. Coker (Religious Tract Society), 1912 (re-issue)
Basil Verely by Archibald Ingram (George Allen & Co.), 1912
The Green Door by Mary Wilkins (Gay & Hancock), 1912
Benjamin Franklin by William M. Thayer (Hodder & Stoughton), 1912
An Uphill Game by Harry Huntingdon (Frederick Warne & Co.), 1913
The Madcap of the Family by M.E. Fraser (Religious Tract Society), 1913
Holiday Quests by Mrs Barton (Religious Tract Society), 1913
The Taming of Tarm by E, Hobart-Hampden (Nisbet & Co.), 1914
The Time of Their Lives by C.A. Palmer (Blackie Son), 1916
The Boy Hero of the Air by Walter A. Briscoe (Oxford University Press), 1921
The Great Antarctic by John Mackie (Jarrold & Sons), 1923
The Perils of Peterkin by Robert Leighton (Jarrold & Sons), 1923
The Little Betty Wilkinson by Evelyn Smith (Blackie & Son), 1923
Pleasure Island by Gurney Slade (Ward, Lock & Co.) 1924
The Sunken Million by D.H. Parry (Frederick Warne & Co.), 1926
Terry’s Best Term by Evelyn Smith (Blackie & Son), 1926
Molly in the West by Bessie Marchant (Blackie & Son), 1927
Winkles, Schoolboy Detective by Rowland Walker (Ward, Lock & Co.), 1927
Lucie’s Luck by Bessie Marchant (Blackie & Son), 1928
Marcus the Briton by Marion Mattingly (Oxford University Press), 1928
Hilda Holds on by Bessie Marchant (Blackie & Son), 1929
The Forbidden Island by E.E. Cowper (Blackie & Son), 1929
Too Big for the Fifth by R.A.H. Goodyear (Ward, Lock & Co.), 1929
That Boy Buckle by St. John Pearce (Ward, Lock & Co.), 1929
On the Fringe of the Cyclone by Courtenay Hayes (Frederick Warne & Co.), 1930
Tringle of Harlech by R.A.H. Goodyear (Ward, Lock & Co.), 1930
Laurel the Leader by Bessie Marchant (Blackie & Son), 1930
Hatherley’s First Fifteen by M.R. Clark (Whitcombe & Tombes), 1930
Two on Their Own by Bessie Marchant (Blackie & Son), 1931
Jane Fills the Breach by Bessie Marchant (Blackie & Son), 1932
Schools in Turmoil by St. John Pearce (Ward, Lock & Co.) 1933
Buckle of Barchester by St. John Pearce (Ward, Lock & Co.), 1934
Anna of the Tenderford by Bessie Marchant (Blackie & Son), 1935
The School at the Turrets by Angela Brazil (Blackie & Son), 1935
The School’s Airmen by R.A.H. Goodyear (Ward, Lock & Co.), 1936
An Exciting Term by Angela Brazil (Blackie & Son), 1936
Felicity’s Fortune by Bessie Marchant (Blackie & Son), 1936
The Broom and heather Boys by R.A.H. Goodyear (Ward, Lock & Co.), 1937
Congo Chains by Major Charles Gilson (Frederick Warne & Co.), 1937
Jill’s Jolliest School by Angela Brazil (Blackie & Son), 1937
Fenshaven Finds Its Feet by R.A.H. Goodyear (Ward, Lock & Co.), 1938
Ella of the Islands by Violet M. Methley (Blackie & Son), 1938
The School on the Cliff by Angela Brazil (Blackie & Son), 1938

Annuals, story collections etc.
A Stirring Book for Boys
Blackie’s Girls’ Annual
The Big Budget for Girls
Warne’s First Reading and Nursery Rhyme Book
The Wonder Book of the Empire
The Wonder Book of Aircraft
True Tales of Adventure
The Children’s Companion

Dates uncertain/not known
Ivanhoe by Walter Scott (T. Nelson & Sons) (re-issue)
Kenilworth by Sir Walter Scott, T. Nelson & Sons (re-issue)
The Talisman by Walter Scott T. Nelson & Sons (re-issue)
Jo’s Boys by Louisa M. Alcott, Blackie & Son, re-issue)
Wilful Madge Marshal by Francis Sweyn, Religious Tract Society (re-issue)
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, F. Warne & Co., (re-issue)
The King’s Pardon by Robert Overton,Jarrold & Sons
Clive of Clair College by J. Harwood Panting, F. Warne & Co. (re-issue)
Annie Carr: A Tale of Both Hemispheres by (Anon.), Religious Tract Society (re-issue)
A Wilful Ward by Ruth Lamb, Religious Tract Society (re-issue)
Her Own Way by Eglanton Thorne, Religious Tract Society (re-issue)
Two Secrets and A Man of His word by Hesba Stretton, Religious Tract Society (re-issue)
Alison’s Ambition by Mary Hampden, Religious Tract Society (re-issue)
The captain of the Eleven by Shirley K. Plant, Religious Tract Society (re-issue)
The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne, F. Warne & Co. (re-issue)
Darcy the Young Acrobat by Helen J. Eastwood, Religious Tract Society (re-issue)

Illustrations for Arthur Conan Doyle stories in The Strand Magazine
The Land of Mist 1925-26 (31 illus.)
When the World Screamed 1928 (7 illus.)
The Disintegration Machine 1929 (3 illus.)
The Death Voyage 1929 (7 illus.)
The End of Devil Hawker 1930 (5 illus.)

(*With thanks to Clare Hiley)


  1. i have a book called the bumper book for girls from publishers thomas nelson and sons and the first plate at the start of the book is a francis e hiley picture. id like to date the book is there any chance you might know the date please. theres another on page 100. but the other two colour plates are by other people.

    1. The Bumper Book for Girls ran from 1926 to 1940, none of them dated, as far as I know. Given that Hiley was active throughout that period, it's impossible to guess.

  2. I have a book, Peoms Ella Wheeler Wilcox 1912 inside an illustration Woodside June 1912 by F E Hiley inside both dust covers front and back in colour very pretty, is this same F E Hiley?

  3. I have a couple of his illustrations. One shows a young man at a printing press face-to-face with a really well-dressed man, with the caption "While Benjamin worked at Watts', Sir Hans Sloane called upon him". The other shows the same young man working at a typecase with another group of men, one gesturing towards him, with the caption "'There he is,' replied James, pointing to Benjamin."

    I'm assuming these refer to Ben Franklin, but I otherwise have no context for them.



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