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Saturday, March 03, 2018

Percy Tarrant

PERCY TARRANT
by
Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Percy Tarrant was another artist who was highly regarded for both his paintings and his work as an illustrator of children’s books.

He was born on 29 May 1855 in Clapham, South London, and baptized on 1 July 1855 at Clapham’s Holy Trinity Church. His father, Alfred (born in London in 1819, died 1877) was a bookbinder, who had married Mary Anne Hale (born in Cambridge in 1817) in Cambridgeshire in 1844. Percy was the seventh of 10 children, all born between 1845 and 1863. Mary Tarrant died in 1870, and Alfred married Elizabeth Hayman Harben, the widowed daughter of a cashier, in Edmonton, London, in 1875. He died two years later.

The Tarrant family lived in Brixton for many years – 1 Brixton Rise (1861 census) and 2 Melbourne Square (1871 census – Alfred was then recorded as a bookseller). At the time of the 1871 census, Percy was recorded as a salesman’s apprentice – however, he clearly had artistic ambitions, as he later enrolled in the Lambeth School of Art (founded in 1854), where he was reported in a local newspaper as a prizewinner in 1878. He was still studying art in 1881, where he was recorded in that
year’s census as a friend staying at 12 Cambria Road, Brixton, living with Sarah Wyatt, a 34 year-old milliner (born in August 1846 in St. Luke’s, Middlesex, the daughter of James Wyatt, a wine merchant). Five years later, on 20 May 1886, Percy and Sarah married at St. Jude’s Church, Brixton – Percy was living at 57 Alfred Street, Camden, at the time, while Sarah was at 70 Shakespeare Road, Brixton. They went on to have one child, Margaret Winifred, born in Battersea on 19 August 1888 – she later achieved great success in her own right as an artist and illustrator.

By then, Percy had established himself as a professional artist. Amongst his earliest works were Christmas cards for Eyre & Spottiswoode and Marcus Ward, issued in 1882. In 1883 he provided an illustration for a Kate Greenaway story in The Illustrated London News, and in 1884 he began contributing to The Quiver, published by Cassell & Co., for whom he also worked on Cassell’s Family Magazine. He quickly became one of Cassell’s regular artists, and his work was exhibited in the company’s annual exhibition of original black and white drawings at their premises at La Belle Suavage, Ludgate Hill, on several occasions.

Tarrant went on to work for a wide range of other periodicals, including Cassell’s Little Folks and Sporting Pictures; the Religious Tract Society’s Girl’s Own Paper, The Leisure Hour and Sunday at Home; S.W. Partridge’s Band of Hope Review, The Mother’s Companion, The Friendly Visitor, The British Workman, The Family Friend and The Children’s Friend; Ward Lock & Co.’s The Windsor Magazine; C. Arthur Pearson’s The Royal Magazine; and The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and Black and White.

Tarrant’s earliest work as a book illustrator appears to have been in three books published by Griffith, Farran & Co. in 1887. In 1889 he illustrated Nancy’s Fancies by E.L. Haverfield for the publisher W. & R. Chambers, and he went on to work for them continuously until 1932, illustrating well over 50 of their children’s books. These included several girls’ stories by L.T. Meade, Raymond Jacberns, May Baldwin and Elsie J. Oxenham, and boys’ stories by Tom Bevan, John Finnemore, Kent Carr, Escott Lynn and D. Stapleton.

Tarrant was also regularly used by the publisher George G. Harrap & Co. from 1918 to 1930, illustrating a few boys’ and girls’ school and adventure stories, alongside re-issues of classic novels such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Little Women and Good Wives.

His work also appeared in the occasional children’s annual, such as Ward. Lock & Co.’s The Boys’ and Girls’ Wonder Book.

As an artist, in both oils and watercolours, he exhibited widely, most notably at the Royal Academy (22 works in total), the Society of British Artists, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, and at galleries up and down the country. One of his specialities was young children, usually portrayed without any of the twee cuteness favoured by some other artists, yet still capturing an air of innocence and charm. In an article in The Royal Magazine in February 1910, it was revealed that he had begun studying children whilst an art student, and his studio was full of toys and other objects that he used to hold a child’s attention, although he was equally as skilled painting outdoors.

In 1890 Tarrant was living at 73 St. James’s Road, Clapham, although within a year he had moved to 1 Fairfield Hill, Leatherhead, living with his wife and daughter and two servants. He eventually returned to London, firstly living at 14 Shandon Road, Clapham (1901 census), and then at 20 Brodrick Road, Wandsworth (1904-1911). He then moved to 1 High View, Gomshall, Surrey, where he lived for several years, eventually moving to The Elms, Wonham Way, Gomshall, where he died on 27 December 1934. His wife had died shortly before this. Neither appear to have left a will.

His daughter Margaret became an illustrator and author. Having studied at the Clapham School of Art, Heatherley’s School of Art  and the Guildford School of Art, she became particularly well-known for her paintings of fairies, flowers and young children. She was commissioned to illustrate an edition of Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies in 1908, aged just 19, and after illustrating several more books she began working for the Medici Society in 1920. She died on 28 July 1959, leaving an estate valued at £17,413 (£350,000 in today’s terms), most of which was bequeathed to charities.


PUBLICATIONS

Books illustrated by Percy Tarrant
Treasures of Art and Song by R.E. Mack (ed.), Griffith, Farran & Co., 1887
Eventide Songs and Sketches by E. Nesbit & Robert Ellice Mack, Griffith, Farran & Co., 1887  
Morning Songs and Sketches by E. Nesbit & Robert Ellice Mack, Griffith, Farran & Co., 1887
All Things Bright and Beautiful: A Treasury of Picture and Song by Robert Ellice Mack (ed.), Ernest Nister, 1888
A Child of the Precinct by Sarah Doudney, Hutchinson & Co., 1892
A Dream of Fair Women by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ernest Nister, 1892
Greyling Towers: A Story for the Young by Mrs Molesworth, W. & R. Chambers, 1898
Mary Unwin by Alan St. Aubyn, Chatto & Windus, 1899
Nancy’s Fancies: A Story About Children by E.L. Haverfield, W. & R. Chambers, 1899
The Odds and the Evens by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1899
The Girl Without Ambition by Isabel Suart Robson, Cassell & Co., 1900
Tom’s Boy by (Anon., i.e. Evelyn Whitaker), W. & R. Chambers, 1900
Granny’s Coach-and-four by Elinor Davenport Adams, Edward Arnold, 1900
Seven Maids by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1900
Miss Nonentity by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1900
Tom and Some Other Girls by Jessie Mansergh, Cassell & Co., 1901
Lady Dye’s Reparation by Sarah Doudney, Religious Tract Society, 1901
Girls of the True Blue by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1901
Cosey Corner, or How They Kept a Farm by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1901
Girls of the Forest by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1902
Gay by (Anon.. i.e. Evelyn Whitaker), W. & R. Chambers, 1903
A Modern Tomboy by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1904
A School Champion by Raymond Jacberns, W. & R. Chambers, 1904
The Girls of St. Gabriel’s, or Life at a French School by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1905
The Discipline of Emmeline Hope by Angela Rivers, Religious Tract Society, 1904
Turquoise and Ruby by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1906
Held by Rebels by Tom Bevan, Collins, 1907
Three Girls from School by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1907
A Discontented Schoolgirl by Raymond Jacberns, W. & R. Chambers, 1907
Tender and True by L. Tiddeman, Religious Tract Society, 1907
The Heart of Una Sackville by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, S. W. Partridge & Co., 1907
Tom and Some Other Girls: A Public School Story by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey, Cassell & Co., 1907
Silas Marner by George Eliot, Collins, 1907 (re-issue)
The School Favourite by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1908
A Bit of Rough Road by Amy Le Feuvre, Religious Tract Society, 1908   
The Princess of the Revels by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1909
Sarah’s Schoolfriend by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1910
Pretty-girl and the Others by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1910
The Girls’ Eton by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1911
An Uncomfortable Term by Raymond Jacberns, W. & R. Chambers, 1911
Phoebe’s Hero by (Anon.), W. & R. Chambers, 1912
Greyling Towers (abridged for use in schools) by Mrs Molesworth, W. & R. Chambers, 1912
Jo Maxwell, Schoolgirl by Lizzie C. Reid, W. & R. Chambers, 1913
The Girls of Abinger Close by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1913
The Queen of Joy by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1914
The Outlaw of the Shell by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1915
A School Camp Fire by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1917
Spoilt Cynthia at School by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1918
The Girls of Chequertrees by Marion S. John Webb, George G. Harrap & Co, 1918
The Boys of Fellingham School by John G. Rowe, George G. Harrap & Co., 1919
Lost Island by H.P. Holt & Ralph Henry Barbour, George G. Harrap & Co., 1919
Jean and the Boys by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1919
Caught Out! A Public School Story by Kent Carr, W. & R. Chambers, 1920
A Cottage Rose by Mabel Quiller-Couch, George G. Harrap & Co., 1920
Jackanapes and Other Tales by Juliana Horatia Ewing, David Mackay (USA), 1920
A Goodly Heritage by K.M. Eady, T. Nelson & Sons, 1920
A Riotous Term at St. Norbert’s by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1920
The White House Boys by R.A.H. Goodyear, George G. Harrap & Co., 1921
Teddy Lester in the Fifth by John Finnemore, W. & R. Chambers, 1921
The Two Form Captains by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1921
Two from Miss Tiddeman’s by Frances Channon, W. & R. Chambers, 1921
Comrades Ever by Escott Lynn, W. & R. Chambers, 1921
Angel Unawares by Queenie Scott-Hopper, George G. Harrap, 1921
Topsy-Turvy Academy by R.A.H. Goodyear, George G. Harrap & Co., 1922
The Captain of the Fifth by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1922
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes, George G. Harrap & Co., 1923 (re-issue)
The Junior Captain by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1923
The Werewolf of Whispers School by Kent Carr, W. & R. Chambers, 1923
Quentin Durward by Walter Scott, George G. Harrap & Co., 1923 (re-issue)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, George G. Harrap & Co., 1924 (re-issue)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, George G. Harrap & Co., 1924 (re-issue)
Robin Hood and his Merry Men by Escott Lynn, W. & R. Chambers, 1924
The Twenty-five Swordsmen by Escott Lynn, W. & R. Chambers, 1925
A Schoolgirl of the Blue by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1925
Tales of All Time (Bk 5), Grant Educational Co. Ltd., 1935
The Troubles of Tazy by Elsie J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1926
Adam Bede by George Eliot, George G. Harrap & Co., 1926
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, George G. Harrap & Co., 1926 (re-issue)
Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott, George G. Harrap & Co., 1927 (re-issue)
For Land and Liberty: A Story of the Norman Conquest by Escott Lynn, W. & R. Chambers, 1927
Seven Scamps by Elinor Brent-Dyer, W. & R. Chambers, 1927
The Lord of the Korean Hlls by Kent Carr, W. & R. Chambers, 1927
The Crisis in Camp Keema by Elise J. Oxenham, W. & R. Chambers, 1928
Where the Russian Flag Flew by David Ker, W. & R. Chambers, 1928
The Third Robin Featherstone by L.C. Douthwaite, W. & R. Chambers, 1929
Chambers’s Stepping-stones to Literature (Bk. 5), W. & R. Chambers, 1929
Heather Leaves School by Elinor Brent-Dyer, W. & R. Chambers, 1929
Men of the North by C.J. Brooke, George G. Harrap & Co., 1930
Dare at St. Martin’s by D. Stapleton, W. & R. Chambers, 1930
D’Arcy Minor by D. Stapleton, W. & R. Chambers, 1931
Janie of La Rochelle by Elinor Brent-Dyer, W. & R. Chambers, 1932
The Louisa M. Alcott Girls’ Book: Two Complete Stories, by Louisa M. Alcott, George G. Harrap & Co., 1933

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