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Saturday, May 12, 2018

D H Friston

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

D.H. Friston was a painter and illustrator best-known for being the first artist to portray Sherlock Holmes, in 1887. He also illustrated a variety of books, mainly children’s adventure and religious stories, and re-issues of classic novels for the publisher John Dicks.

He was born on 18 December 1821 (and not 1820 as most other sources suggest), and baptized, as David Henry Friston, at the Holy Trinity Church, Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorkshire (now known simply as Hull), on 11 October 1825. His parents were David Friston (1795-1839), a mariner, and Hannah, née Ball (1787-1863), both from Kingston-upon-Hull. David was the third of their three children, his siblings being Richard (born in 1818) and Samuel (1820).

On 10 March 1840 Friston married Harriett Malone at St. Mary’s Church, Sculcoates (a village just outside Kingston-upon-Hull). They both gave their age as 21, although it is known that Friston was younger than this – presumably this was to avoid having to obtain parental consent for the marriage. All that is known about Harriett’s age is that she was baptized on 14 September 1819, so she may or may not have been 21 at the time of the marriage.

Friston was already working as a painter – this was his profession shown on the marriage record, and in the 1841 census he was recorded as a painter, living at Edgar Street, Kingston-upon-Hull, along with his wife and a daughter, Harriett. She had been christened Harriett Malone in Beverley on 25 July 1836, with no father named.

Friston and his wife went on to have seven children: Hannah and Elizabeth (born in Kingston-upon-Hull in 1841 and 1844), Emma (born in Caistor, Lincolnshire in 1846, and christened in Market Rasen, Yorkshire, in 1846), Richard, William and Albert (born in 1848, 1850 and 1852 respectively in London), and Eva, born in Sculcoates in 1853).

The children’s birthdates suggest that Friston moved to London in around 1847. By the time of the 1851 census, he was living at 43 Augustus Street, Regent’s Park, described as a Historical Painter. His artistic career had, up till then, been fairly low-key, but in 1853 he exhibited his first painting at the Royal Academy of Art, and he went on to exhibit there a further 13 times up until 1869 (although he never became a member of the Academy). In 1853 he exhibited at the British Institution, again going on to exhibit there regularly until 1867. He also exhibited with the Royal Society of British Artists in 1863. He illustrated his first book in 1855, although he didn’t become a regular book illustrator until 1860, when he began a long association with Groombridge & Sons, of 5 Paternoster Row.

His wife Harriett died in Greenwich in 1854, and a year later, on 4 July 1855, he married Ann King at St. Pancras Parish Chapel. At the time, they were both living at 34 Stanhope Street, Regent’s Park. She died in the second quarter of 1859, and a few months later, on 31 October 1859, at St. Matthew’s Church, St. Pancras, Friston married Ann Hughes, born in Frodsham, Cheshire, in 1826, the daughter of Timothy Hughes, a ship’s carpenter. They went on to have three children: Anthony (born in 1861), Ann (1862), and Marshall (1863).

In May 1860 Friston began illustrating Groombridge & Sons’ newly-lunched Magnet Stories for Summer Days and Winter Nights – this was a monthly publication containing a long short story, issues of which were then collected into bound volumes and also issued separately as hardbacks. Authors included W.H.G. Kingston, Mrs S.C. Hall, Frances Freeling Broderip and Charlotte M. Yonge. Many of his drawings were engraved by Edward Whymper. He signed his work either “D H Friston” or “D H F”.

In 1863 he began contributing illustrations to periodicals, beginning with The Churchman’s Family Magazine. In 1866 he began contributing to The Illustrated Times, followed by Tinsley’s Magazine and, most notably, The Illustrated London News, for which he drew numerous theatrical scenes from contemporary stage productions – plays, operas and pantomimes, including many by Gilbert and Sullivan – for a period of at least ten years. Other periodicals which used his work in the 1860s and 1870s were London Society, Belgravia, The Dark Blue (for which he illustrated Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire story “Carmilla” in 1871-72), The Penny Illustrated Paper, Bow Bells (to which he contributed for over 15 years), The Boy’s Herald, The Boy’s Own Paper (for which he illustrated two serials, both by T.S. Millington, in 1879-80), and The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News.

His work also appeared in various Christmas annuals, including The Belgravia Annual, Beeton’s Christmas Annual, Routledge’s Christmas Annual, The Mistletoe Bough: A New Christmas Annual, and The Christian Million.

In 1863 was recorded living at 7A Pembroke Terrace, St. John’s Wood, and when he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1869 his address was given as 71 Judd Street, St. Pancras. In the 1871 census he was recorded at 29 Great Ormond Street. There appears to be no trace of him, or his family, in the 1881 census.

As well as his work for periodicals, he continued to illustrate books. These included the works of John Bunyan for Cassell, Petter & Galpin, and several boys’ adventure stories, by authors such as Emilia Marryatt, Augusta Marryatt, W.H.G. Kingston and Emma Leslie. For some years he was associated with the publishing firm of John Dicks, with his illustrations appearing in several titles issued in Dicks’ English Novels, Dicks’ English Library of Standard Works, Dicks’ Standard plays and Bow Bells Novelettes.

In 1887 he was commissioned by Ward, Lock & Co. to illustrate Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes story, “A Study in Scarlet’” which appeared in that year’s Beeton’s Christmas Annual. Friston had previously illustrated four of Doyle’s earlier stories in Christmas numbers of London Society: “The Little Square Box” and “The Gully of Bluemansdyke” in 1881; My Friend the Murderer” in 1882, and “Elias B. Hopkins – The Parson of Jackman’s Gulch” in 1885. Friston provided four drawings for “A Study in Scarlet”, and while there was no criticism of his work at the time, in later years his portrayal of Holmes was regarded with disdain. In 1932 The Bookman noted that Friston’s Holmes
is neither handsome nor intellectual; he wears undertaker’s side-whiskers, an ulster with a cape, and a hat like nothing on sea or land – a sort of bastard child of a bowler out of a sombrero. With a magnifying glass as big as a sunflower, he is examining the word RACHE written in blood upon the wall. About him, in grotesque attitudes, stand Watson – with a walrus’s moustache – and the Scotland Yarders, Gregson and Lestrade. Mr Friston seems to have thought that the scene was macabre, and that the characters should look like gargoyles…
In 1998, in The Bedside, Bathtub and Armchair Companion to Sherlock Holmes, Dick Riley and Pam McAllister observed that
To our eyes, Friston’s Holmes is an outrage. His head and hands appear small, almost feminine, his sideburns are ridiculously long, and his figure is plump, dwarfed by the oversized coat. On his head appears a strange, rounded hat. This Holmes looks nothing like the detective we know.
Of course, “the Holmes we know” was the work of Sidney Paget, who began illustrating Sherlock Holmes stories in The Strand Magazine in 1891, and the retrospective criticism of Friston is, to say the least, unfair and unwarranted.

At some point in the late 1870s/early 1880s Friston moved to 26 Queen’s Arms Buildings, York Road, Islington, where he remained until his death. His third wife died in Islington in 1882, and in the 1891 census he was recorded as an artist living on his own. In early 1901 at Islington Registry Office he married Edith Emily Burtenshaw (born in Worthing, Sussex, in 1870, the daughter of a builder) – she had previously worked as an artist’s model. She had a son, Edwin Triston Burtenshaw, born in Islington in 1892.

Friston’s career tailed off quite dramatically in the early 1890s. His last works (other than in modern reprints) appeared in 1902 and 1903. He died, of prostate cancer, at 26 Queen’s Arms Buildings on 20 April 1906, leaving an estate valued at £446 (around £44,000 in today’s terms). Emily Edith re-married in 1916.


Books illustrated by D.H. Friston
A Practical Guide to the English Kinder-garten by Johannes & Bertha Ronge, J.S. Hodson, 1855
A True Relation of the Holy War made by King Shaddai upon Diabolus by John Bunyon, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1860
A Book of Favourite Modern Ballads, W. Kent & Co., 1860 (with other artists)
Chronicles of an Old English Oak by Emily Taylor, Groombridge & Sons, 1860
Stories for Girls by Mrs S.C. Hall & others, Groombridge & Sons, 1861(?)
Scripture Stories for the Young by Frederick Calder, J. Hogg & Sons, 1862
The Illustrated Bunyan, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1863-65 (with other artists)
Our Birthdays, and How to Improve Them by Emma Anne Georgina Davenport, Griffith & Farran, 1864
Historical Dramas by Charlotte M. Yonge, Groombridge & Sons, 1864
Lost in the Wood and other stories, Groombridge & Sons, 1864(?)
Agathos and Other Sunday Stories by Samuel Wilberforce, Seeley, Jackson & Halliday, 1865 (with other artists)
The Children and the Lion, and Other Sunday Stories by Samuel Wilberforce, Sunday School Union, 1865 (with other artists)
The Orphans of Elfholm, and Other Stories by Frances Browne, Groombridge & Sons, 1867
Routledge’s Coloured Scrap Book, George Routledge & Sons, 1867 (with other artists)
The Angel Unawares, and Other Stores by Mary Howitt, Groombridge & Sons, 1869 (re-issue)
Mama’s New Bible Stories by Emily G. Nesbitt, James Blackwood & Co., 1870(?) (re-issue)
5 Christmas Stories by various authors, Tinsley Brothers, 1871
The Round Robin: A Gathering of Fact, Fiction, Incident and Adventure edited by ‘Old Merry’, Frederick Warne & Co., 1872 (with other artists)
Aunt Louisa’s Sunday Picture Book by L. Valentine, F. Warne & Co., 1872 (re-issue)
Scripture Stories and Bible Narratives for Children by Frederick Calder, Ward, Lock & Co., 1872
Geoffrey’s Great Fault by Emilia Norris, Griffith & Farran, 1872
Sunday Chats with Sensible Children by Clara L. Mateaux, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1872
The King of No-Land by Benjamin Leopold Farjeon, Tinsley Brothers, 1874
Snowed Up, or The Hut in the Forest by Emilia Marryat, Griffith & Farran, 1874
The Three Lieutenants, or Naval Life in the Nineteenth Century by W.H.G. Kingston, Griffith & Farran, 1875
Somebody: A Story for Children by Stella Austin, J. Masters & Co., 1875
Union Jack and Other Stories by Mrs S.C. Hall, Groombrdge & Sons, 1876(?)
The Three Commanders, or Active Service Afloat in Modern Days by W.H.G. Kingston, Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, 1876
The Frontier Fort, or Stirring Times in the North-west Territory of British America by W.H.G. Kingston, S.P.C.K., 1877
Lost in the Jungle: A Story of the Indian Mutiny by Augusta Marryat, Griffith & Farran, 1877
The Disappearance of Jeremiah Redworth by Mrs J.H. Riddell, George Routldge & Sons, 1878
In School and Out of School and Other Stories by A.F. Lydon, Groombridge Sons, 1878 (with other artists)
Stories from Many Lands by various authors, Groombridge & Sons, 1878
Hereward the Brave, and Other Stories by various authors, Groombridge & Sons, 1879
Spring Time Stories by various authors, Groombridge & Sons, 1879
Out and About: A Boy’s Adventures Written for Adventurous Boys by J. Hain Friswell, Groombridge & Sons, 1879 (with other artists)
Havering Hall and Other Stories by various authors, Groombridge & Sons, 1879
The Golden Grasshopper: A Story of the Days of Sir Thomas Gresham by W.H.G. Kingston, Religious Tract Society, 1880
The Story Garden by various authors, Groombridge & Sons, 1880 (with John Gilbert)
Golden Autumn by Thomas Miller, Groombridge & Sons, 1882
Leofwine the Monk, or The Curse of the Ericsons by Emma Leslie, Religious Tract Society, 1882
Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens, John Dicks, 1883
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, John Dicks, 1883
The Gospel Picture Book, S.P.C.K., 1885
The Clockmaker of Lyons, and Other Stories by various authors, Groombridge & Sons, 1886
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle, Ward, Lock & Co., 1888
The Vicar of Redcross, or Till Death Us Do Part by Sarah Doudney, Houlston & Sons, 1888
The Mystery of Mandeville Square by Sir Gilbert Campbell, Ward, Lock & Co., 1888 (with other artists)
Soldiers’ Stories and Sailors’ Yarns, John Hogg, 1888
The Hunting of the “Hydra”, or The Phantom Prahu by Henry Frith, George Routledge & Sons, 1888
Romances of the Law by R.E. Francillon, Chatto & Windus, 1889
A Lonely Life by anon., Houlston &Sons, 1889
The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins by Robert Paltock, John Dicks, 1889
The Great Grill Street Conspiracy: A London Detective Story by Sir Gilbert Campbell, Ward, Lock & Co., 1891 (with Matt Stretch)
Rainbow Dreams by E.T. Roe, Donohue, Henneberry & Co., (Chicago), 1892
The Complete Poems of Tom Hood, John Dicks, 1893 (with George Cruikshank)
The Pathfinder, or The Inland Sea by James Fenimore Cooper, John Dicks, 1902 (re-issue)
Romance of Real Life: True Incidents in the Lives of the Great and Good, Religious Tract Society, 1903(?) (with other artists) (re-issue)
The Haunted River and Three Other Ghostly Novellas by Mrs J.H. Riddell, Sarob Press, 2001 (with other artists)
Elfreda the Saxon, or The Orphan of Jerusalem by Emma Leslie, Salem Ridge Press, 2009 (with other artists)

Published by John Dicks – dates not known
Fantastic Tales of Rhineland by Emil Erckmann & Alexandre Chatrian, trans. by James Redding Ware, John Dicks
Kenilworth by Walter Scott, John Dicks
The Abbott, Being the Sequel to The Monastery by Walter Scott, John Dicks
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding, John Dicks
Gilbert Gurney by Theodore Edward Hook, John Dicks
Kerrison’s Crime by James Greenwood, John Dicks
The Dramatic Works of R.B. Sheridan, John Dicks
Grace Darling by G.W.M. Reynolds, John Dicks
The Adventures of Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding, John Dicks
The Pearl of Levonby by M.E.O. Malen, John Dicks

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