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Saturday, February 03, 2018

Reginald Mills

REGINALD MILLS
by
Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Like J. Dewar Mills, Reginald Mills (no relation) is also a rather enigmatic figure. Sources on the internet, largely websites dealing with paintings sold at auction, give his dates as 1896-1950, and, few, if any refer to his work as an illustrator of children’s books. Only the barest details of his life can be ascertained from online genealogy records.

The most comprehensive details are from his brief service in the army in 1914. His service record reveals that he was he enlisted, in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, on 28 August 1914, his occupation given as art student. He was recorded as born in Hampstead, Middlesex, with his age given as 19 years 154 days. He was described as just over 5 ft 10 ins, with a sallow complexion and dark brown hair and eyes. His mother, Alice Mills, was living at 39 Cavendish Mansions, Mill Lane, West Hampstead. His army career was, however, very short-lived, as he was declared medically unfit owing to flat feet and bunions, and he was discharged on 23 September 1914.

Extrapolating back from his age on 28 August 1914, his date of birth can be fixed at 28 March 1895. Unfortunately, there are no online birth records which confirm this. When he married, in 1940, the marriage certificate showed his father as Horace Mills (deceased), a former artist. In the 1901 census, an Alice Mills, born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, around 1874, and a Reginald Mills, born in Marylebone, London, aged 5, were living at 42 Cochrane Street, St. Marylebone. Ten years later, they were at 39 Cavendish Mansions, Hampstead. Alice’s husband was absent from the 1901 census record, and in 1911 she was recorded as a widow, living on private means, with Reginald at school. Unfortunately, there appears to be no online record of a marriage between a Horace Mills and an Alice (other than one between a Horace Mills and an Alice Susannah Martha Carter in Kingston, Surrey, in 1892 – however, Horace was a farmer in Essex, and he and his family appear elsewhere in subsequent census records).

Mills received his artistic training at the South London Technical School of Art, formerly the Lambeth School of Art. His professional career seems to have begun around 1920, and for many years he worked as both a painter and illustrator. He produced portraits, landscapes and genre paintings, and in 1930 he was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists. He exhibited widely, including at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours.

As an illustrator of children’s books, his early work was largely for the publishers Frederick Warne & Co. He also worked for the Religious Tract Society, illustrating a handful of books plus occasionally contributing to The Boy’s Own Paper and The Girl’s Own Paper. He also contributed to The Wide World Magazine, The Woman’s Magazine and Chums. In 1930 he began an eight-year association with the Oxford University Press, specializing in illustrating boy’s school stories, by authors such as Gunby Hadath, Richard Bird and Michael Poole. He also contributed to annual volumes such as the Oxford University Press’s The Great Book of School Stories for Boys and The Big Book of School Stories for Boys. He also illustrated a small number of boys’ and girls’ adventure stories, and the occasional re-issue of a 19th century novel, such as William Harrison Ainsworth’s The Tower of London.

He also worked for the advertising agency James Haworth & Co., producing posters for companies such as the Cunard White Star Line.

He became best-known for his work during the Second World War, when he joined the Auxiliary Fire Service, and became one of a large group of fireman artists, recording the London Blitz in a series of paintings produced in his spare time. His pictures were widely exhibited, with several now held in national collections, including at the Imperial War Museum, and many of them appeared in two books: London’s Hour, As Seen Through the Eyes of the Firefighters, published by Staples Books in 1942; and In the Service of the Nation: The N.F.S. Goes into Action, published by Raphael Tuck & Sons (for the National Fore Service Benevolent Fund) in 1944.

In the meantime, he had married Theresa Beatrice Dancyger (born on 8 November 1914 in Paddington), at the Hampstead Register Office on 25 November 1940. She was the daughter of Moss Dancyger, a schoolteacher, and his wife Gertrude. They had been living at 60, Armitage Road, Hendon, although at the time of the marriage Theresa and Reginald were both at 39 Cavendish Mansions, Mill Lane, Hampstead, where Reginald had been living since at least 1911. Theresa was, at the time, working for the A.T.S. as a kine theodolite operator (checking the results of artillery fire by the use of photographs and mathematical calculation).

Between 1944 and 1946 Mills was in charge of an authorship section at the Ministry of Aircraft. He and his wife subsequently left London, moving to 28 Evesham Road, Cheltenham, Mills becoming a member of the Cheltenham Art Club, and working professionally for an engineering firm, S. Smith & Sons. In 1948 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

The quality of Mills’s work varied enormously. Many of his books had well-executed colour dustwrappers and frontispieces, and while some contained black and white halftone plates, again well-drawn, others contained simple black and white line drawings, which were often hastily-drawn and could almost have been sketches.

At some point, Mills and his wife moved back to London, living at 18 Deanville Mansions, Wandsworth. This was his address when he died on 12 September 1951, at St. Luke’s Hospital, Bayswater, after suffering from mouth cancer. His wife re-married in 1959, and died in 1996.


PUBLICATIONS

Books illustrated by Reginald Mills
The Making of a Woman by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1920(?) (re-issue)
The Rebellion of Margaret by Geraldine Mockler, Jarrold & Sons, 1923 (re-issue)
Uranias’s Training by Mary Bourchier Sanford, Religious Tract Society, 1925
The River Riders: An Exciting Lumberjack Story by T.C. Bridges, Frederick Warne & Co., 1925
The Star Chamber by William Harrison Ainsworth, Frederick Warne & Co., 1925 (re-issue)
Beyond the Hills by Maysel Jenkinson, Frederick Warne & Co., 1926
Scouts in Buckskin by Wingrove Willson, Aldine Pub. Co., 1926 (with other artists)
The World of Sport and Adventure edited by Wingrove Willson, Aldine Pub. Co., 1926 (with other artists)
The Magic Island by Ethel Talbot, “The Children’s Companion” Office, 1926
The House by the Chapel Rock by Maud Morin, Frederick Warne & Co., 1926
The Sioux of St. Jude’s by Wingrove Willson, Goodship House, 1926 (dustwrapper)
Cubs to the Rescue by Ronald S. Lyons, Frederick Warne & Co., 1927
The Two Recruits by D.S. Batley, S.P.C.K., 1927 (re-issue)
The Chums of Moorhaven by C.B. Rutley, Frederick Warne & Co., 1928
Crumbling Barriers and Other Stories by various authors, Frederick Warne & Co., 1928 (with other artists)
The Tower of London by William, Harrison Ainsworth, Frederick Warne & Co., 1928(?) (re-issue)
Those Dreadful Girls by Esther E. Enock, Religious Tract Society, 1928 (re-issue)
Isle of Gladness by Mary B. Sanford, “Every Girl’s Paper” Office, 1929
Alick’s Corner by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1929
Peter the Whaler by W.H.G. Kingston, The “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1930(?) (re-issue)
A School Feud by Richard Bird, Oxford University Press, 1930
The New School at Shropp: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, Oxford University Press, 1930
Terry Takes Charge: A Public School Story by Richard Bird, Oxford University Press, 1931
Brent of Gatehouse: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, Oxford University Press, 1931
Mystery Island: A Story for Wolf Cubs by Ronald Samuel Lyons, Frederick Warne & Co., 1931
The Big Five: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, Oxford University Press, 1932
The Bully of Boiling Creek by T.C. Burgess, Frederick Warne & Co., 1932
The Riddle of the Frontier by Robert Harding, The “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1932
The Gift of the Sea by Beatrice H.M. Walker, Religious Tract Society, 1932
The Mystery at Ridings: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, Oxford University Press, 1933
For the Sake of the House by Veronica Marlow, Oxford University Press, 1933
The Motor Car Mystery by T.C. Bridges, Frederick Warne & Co., 1933
The Hidden Door by Constance M. Evans, Frederick Warne & Co., 1933
Allies in the Fourth by Jessie McAlpine, Oxford University Press, 1933
Tales of Lexham by Charles Turley, Oxford University Press, 1934
The Fighting Fourth by Edith Mary de Foubert, Oxford University Press, 1934
The Lone Hand by T.C. Bridges, Frederick Warne & Co., 1934
The Exile by E.R.G.R. Evans, Frederick Warne & Co., 1934
The Cedar-wood Box by Constance M. Evans, Frederick Warne & Co., 1939
Play to the Whistle: A School Story by Michael Poole, Oxford University Press, 1934
That Eventful Term by Veronica Marlow, Oxford University Press, 1934
The World of Ice by R.M. Vallantyne, Religious Tract Society, 1934 (re-issue)
Revolt at Fallas: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, Oxford University Press, 1935
Grim Work at Bodlands: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, Oxford University Press, 1935
Revolution at Redways: A School Story by Michael Poole, Oxford University Press, 1935
The King’s Messenger by Frank W. Howe, Frederick Warne & Co., 1935
The Lower School Leader by Veronica Marlow, Oxford University Press, 1935
The Head Girl at Wynford by Winifred Darch, Oxford University Press, 1935
The Voodoo Stone by Gordon Hill Grahame, George G. Harrap & Co., 1935
Our Island Holiday by Josephine Smith Wright, George G. Harrap & Co., 1935
Bancroft of the Grammar School by Michael Poole, Oxford University Press, 1936
Mystery Camp by James Thomas Gordon, Oxford University Press, 1936
The Sanctuary of the Maidar by A. Lloyd Owen, George G. Harrap & Co., 1936 (with
Thomas Somerfield)
The Menace of the Terribore: A Modern Adventure Story by John Dolben Mackworth, George G. Harrap & Co., 1936
The Secret River by Constance M. Evans, Frederick Warne & Co., 1936
Captain Quid by Gurney Slade, Frederick Warne & Co., 1937
Major and Minor: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, Oxford University Press, 1938
London’s Hour, As Seen Through the Eyes of the Firefighters, Staples Books Ltd., 1942
The Feud at Twin Mountain by J.E. Grinstead, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1943
The Trapper of Rat River by Charles Stoddard, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1943
Trail Boss by Peter Dawson, William Collins, 1944
Gallop and Trot: Horses at Work and Rest by Lucy Elizabeth Kemp Welch, Oxford University Press, 1944
“In the Service of the Nation”: The N.F.S. Goes into Action, Raphael Tuck & Sons (for the National Fire Service Benevolent Fund), 1944
Some of China’s Children by Hal Beckett, Salvantionist Publishing, 1944
Oklahoma Law by Tex Holt, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1946
Mallory of the Royal Mounted by Charles Stoddard, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1946
The Flower Called “Faith-in-the-Night” by Madge Unsworth, Salvationist Pub. & Supplies, 1946
Forward Commandos! By Margery Bianco, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1947 (dustwrapper)
Tales of Mystery and Imagaination (2 vols) by Edgar Allan Poe, Ivor Micholson & Watson, 1948 (covers)
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, W. Foulsham & Co., 1948 (re-issue)
Rodeo Cowboy by Chuck Martin, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1949
Young Britain’s Book of Farm Life, Oxo Ltd., 1950(?)
South with the Kittiwake by Parry Pearson, Frederick Warne & Co., 1952
Dramatised Bible Stories by George John Adams, Frederick Warne & Co., 1952
Drummer’s Hall by J.E. Taylor, Frederick Warne & Co., 1953
The Long Arm of the Cardinal by Gurney Slade, Frederick Warne & Co., 1953
Macaria by A.J. Evans Wilson, Hayes (dustwrapper) – date not known

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