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Saturday, March 17, 2018

W E Wigfull

W.E. WIGFULL
By
Robert J. Kirkpatrick

W.E. Wigfull was probably best-known for illustrating over 20 of Percy F. Westerman’s novels over a 27 year period, although he was also known as a yachtsman and author and illustrator of coastal and sailing stories.

He was born in Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield, in 1874, although his exact date of birth is unclear – in the 1939 Register he gave his date of birth as 14 May 1874, although the Civil Registration Birth Index shows his birth as being registered in the fourth quarter of 1874. He was named William Edward Wigfull, after his father William (born in 1839). His mother, Ann Crawshaw Ragg (born in in Ecclesall Bierlow in 1838) was the daughter of James and Elizabeth Ragg, James being a scissor manufacturer. William Edward was the fifth child of William and Ann, his siblings being James (born 1864), William (born 1865, died 1867), Mary (born 1867) and Joshua (born 1869).

At the time of the 1881 census the family was living at 105 Union Road, Ecclesall Bierlow, with 17 year-old James listed as an architecture student. William Edward subsequently attended Sheffield Royal Grammar School, and in the 1891 census, when the family was living at 41 Crescent Road, Eccesall Bierlow, he was working as a commercial clerk (while James was working as an architect’s assistant). The following year, William Edward enrolled at the Sheffield School of Art, where he studied until at least 1896. He exhibited oil paintings with the Sheffield Society of Artists between 1895 and 1901, by which time he had moved to London, firstly to 1A Cathcart Road, Kensington, and then to 5 Albert Studios, Albert Bridge Road, Battersea, where, in the 1901 census, he was recorded working as an artist and living with his brother Joshua, the manager of an electroplating company. He had no doubt benefited financially from a legacy from his father, who had died in 1898 – he had entered into a partnership with Thomas Hydes, as engineers, in 1870, and the business had flourished, enabling William to leave an estate valued at £3,018, worth around £309,000 in today’s terms.

William Edward Wigfull’s earliest known published work appeared in 1899, in The Poster Magazine and The Idler. In 1900, he began contributing to The English Illustrated Magazine, and over the following ten years he contributed to The Girls’ Realm, The Longbow, The Quiver, The Penny Magazine, The Strand Magazine, Chums, and The Captain.

In the meantime, on 21 November 1903, at St. Jude’s Church, Kensal Green, he had married Alice Rhodes Green, the daughter of Thomas Green, a painter and decorator. Alice, born in Leamington, Warwickshire, in 1877, had earlier worked as a servant (1891 census) in Milverton, Warwickshire, before becoming a dressmaker. William and Alice subsequently moved to 25 Cambridge Mansions, Cambridge Road, Battersea, and then to 1 Kings Road, Willesden. In the 1911 census, they were recorded at 16 Augusta Place, Leamington, staying with Alice’s brother, Frederick Arthur Green, a plumber and decorator, and his family. William and Alice had, however, settled on a move to Essex – they were also recorded in 1911 living at 82 Oakleigh Park Road, Leigh-on-Sea, an address they maintained until Alice’s death there on 20 July 1924. In an article in Yachting Monthly in 1914 he described a yachting trip around Canvey Island in which he was accompanied by his “wife, sister-in-law and small daughter” – although no further details of his daughter are known (nor, indeed, if he had any further children).

Wigfull had established himself as a book illustrator in the early 1900s, beginning with a girls’ historical novel in 1905, which was followed by five more girls’ stories until 1914, when he illustrated his first Percy F. Westerman stories: The Log of a Snob (published by Chapman & Hall) and The Sea-Girt Fortress (published by Blackie & Son). He went on to illustrate a further 22 Percy F. Westerman stories, mainly for Blackie & Son, including ‘Midst Arctic Perils (1919), The Wireless Officer (1922), On the Wings of the Wind (1928), The Amir’s Ruby (1932), Ringed by Fire (1936), and Standish Gets His Man (1938). He also illustrated six novels by Percy Westerman’s son John F.C. Westerman, beginning with A Mystery of the Air in 1931 and ending with The Air Record Breakers in 1940.

He also illustrated a number of similar boys’ adventure stories by a variety of authors, in particular Lawrence R. Bourne. His work also appeared in the occasional boys’ annual, such as Blackie’s Boys’ Annual and The Big Budget for Boys. He had also continued contributing to periodicals, in particular The Bystander (for which he provided numerous cartoons and comic drawings between 1918 and 1922). Other periodicals which included his work around this time were The Wide World Magazine, The Pall Mall Magazine, Everyweek, The Sphere and The Scout.

Having moved to the Essex coast, he quickly developed an interest in sailing. He began a long association with the magazine Yachting Monthly, for which he wrote articles (sometimes using the pseudonym “Handy Billy”) as well as supplying black and white illustrations.

After his wife’s death, he moved to South Benfleeet, Essex. In 1931, he was living at “Berkenray”, Sidwell Avenue, and in the 1939 Register he was recorded at Lobster Smack, Canvey Island. He died on 1 January 1944 at his home at Fairview, Highcliff Road, South Benfleet, leaving an estate valued at £2,187 (around £81,000 in today’s terms).

As an illustrator of boys’ adventure stories, it must be admitted that he was not particularly good. In his Dictionary of 20th Century Book Illustrators Alan Horne remarked that “His work is reproduced mostly in half-tone, and is quite undistinguished.” Similarly, Brigid Peppin and Lucy Micklethwait remark in their Dictionary of British Book Illustrators of the Twentieth Century: “He worked mainly in halftone, a style that became more linear as his career progressed, but which gradually lacked distinguishing features.” There is a large element of truth in this – many of his illustrations are very dark and appear to be hastily done, and why the Westermans’ publisher persevered with him is something of a mystery. His political cartoons in The Bystander also had the appearance of being dashed off in a hurry, although some of his other cartoons were more carefully drawn and had echoes of the earlier work of Tom Browne.


PUBLICATIONS

Books illustrated by W.E. Wigfull
A Bearer of Dispatches: A Story of the Siege of Lynn, 1643 by Emil Loch, S.P.C.K., 1905
In the Days of the Gironde: A Story for Girls by ‘Thekla’, Religious Tract Society, 1910
Living It Out by H.M. Ward, Religious Tract Society, 1910
The Sea-Baby by Amy Whipple, Religious Tract Society, 1910
The Moods of Delphine by L.E. Tiddeman, Religious Tract Society, 1911
The Heart of a Friend: A Story for Girls by Florence Willmot, Religious Tract Society, 1911
Skylark, or A Boy’s Influence by M. Geneste, Religious Tract Society, 1912
The Log of a Snob by Percy F. Westerman, Chapman & Hall, 1914
The Sea-Girt Fortress: A Story of Heligoland by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1914
A Sub. Of the R.N.R.: A Story of the Great War by Percy F. Westerman, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1915
The Fight for Constantinople by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1915
The Battles of the South Seas by Frank H. Mason, Yachting Monthly, 1915 (with other artists)
Sea, Spray and Spindthrift: Naval Yarns by “Taffrail” (i.e. H. Taprell Dorling), C. Arthur Pearson, 1917
The Secret Channel and Other Stories of the Great War by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1918 (with other artists)
The Thick of the Fray at Zeebrugge by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1919
‘Midst Arctic Perils: A Thrilling Story of Adventure in the Polar Regions by Percy F. Westerman, C. Arthur Pearson, 1919
The Wireless Officer by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1922
A Cadet of the Mercantile Marine by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1923
The Good Ship “Golden Effort”: A Tale of the Mercantile Marine by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1924
The Wreck of the “Wager” and Subsequent Adventures of her Crew by John Bukeley and the Hon. John Byron, Blackie & Son, 1925
King of Kilba by Percy F. Westerman, Ward Lock & Co., 1926
Moffat of Africa: A Zealous Missionary and a Brave Pioneer by Norman J. Davidson, Seeley, Service & Co., 1926
Two Years Before the Mast by R.H. Dana, Blackie & Son, 1926 (re-issue)
The Terror of the Seas by Percy F. Westerman, Ward Lock & Co., 1927
On the Wings of the Wind by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1928
Captain Starlight by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1929
The Gang on Wheels by D. Lindsay Thompson, Ward Lock & Co., 1930
The Secret of the Plateau by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1931
A Mystery of the Air by John F.C. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1931
The Looted Gold by John F.C. Westerman, Ward Lock & Co., 1932
The Amir’s Ruby by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1932
Chasing the “Pleiad”by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1933
Captain Ben and the Almighty by Herbert S. Carter, J. Looker Ltd., 1933
The Coppernob Omnibus by Lawrence R. Bourne, Oxford University Press, 1933
The Westow Talisman by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1934
Harry Paye: A Romance of Old Poole by Herbert S. Carter, J. Looker Ltd., 1934
Standish of the Air Police by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1935
The Chronicles of Jerry by Lawrence R. Bourne, Oxford University Press, 1935
Radium Island by Lawrence R. Bourne, Oxford University Press, 1936
Ringed by Fire by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1936
The Secret Island by John F.C. Westerman, Ward Lock & Co., 1936
Standish Gets His Man by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1938
Mixed Cargoes by Lawrence R. Bourne, Oxford University Press, 1938
Battling Though by John F.C. Westerman, Ward Lock & Co., 1938
Standish Loses His Man by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1939
Saving His Ticket by Lawrence R. Bourne, Oxford University Press, 1939
The Northway’s Quest by John F.C. Westerman, Ward Lock & Co., 1939
Standish Pulls it Off by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1940
A Spot of Bother by John F.C. Westerman, Ward Lock & Co., 1940
The Air Record Breakers by John F.C. Westerman, Ward Lock & Co., 1940
Our Merchant Navy by Sidney Howard, Oxford University Press, 1941
Standish Holds On by Percy F. Westerman, Blackie & Son, 1941
Sailing on a Modest Income: An Anthology of Articles from “Yacht Sales and Charters” Magazine, 1925-27 ed. By Maurice Griffiths, Waterside Publications, 1996

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