Saturday, June 23, 2018

A A Dixon

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

A.A. Dixon was a talented painter and illustrator who was at home in a variety of genres – he was particularly well-known as an painter of religious scenes, and he also illustrated a wide range of children’s books, including girls’ school and adventure stories and fairy stories, and he was in great demand as an illustrator of re-issues of “classic” novels.

He was born in St. Pancras, London, on 8 May 1872 and baptized, as Arthur Augustus Dixon, on 25 September 1872 at All Saints Church, St. Pancras. His father, Richard Dixon (1839-1887), was a grainer and marbler, originally from Darlington, Durham, who had moved to London in the 1860s and in 1869 married Rosa Sparrow (1840-1901), the daughter of Frederick Sparrow, a former painter and decorator who had become a private landlord. Arthur was the second of their four children, his siblings being Frederick Richard (born on 8 May 1870), Herbert Walter (31 October 1876), and Charles (19 May 1879).

At the time of the 1871 census, Richard, Rosa and their first child were living at 5 Huntly Street, St. Pancras, where they lived until around 1878, when they moved to 46 Huntly Street. By the time of Richard’s death, on 15 September 1887, the family had moved to 72 Islip Street, Kentish Town. Rosa and her sons subsequently moved to 26 Arthur Road, Highbury – at the time of the 1891 census, Frederick was working as grainer and marbler, and Herbert was working as a commercial clerk. Arthur Augustus was recorded as an illustrator and artist, although he was, at that time, studying at Camden School of Art. In 1893, he was awarded a local scholarship, which enabled him to spend three years at almost any other art school, although whether or not he took this up, and if so where he studied, is not known.

He was, however, developing into a skilled painter, and went on to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Art in 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900 and 1909. He also exhibited with the Royal Society of British Artists, and was a member of the Camden Arts Club.

By 1897, the Dixon family had moved to 4 Gatcombe Road, Islington. Two years later, Arthur Augustus married Cecil Elsie Sowerby in Steyning, Sussex – she was the daughter of Charles James Sowerby, a bank clerk, and had been baptized at on 9 June 1867 at St. Mary’s Church, Barnes, Surrey. She was herself an artist and sculptor (1891 census). They went on to have two children: Elsie, born on 21 May 1900, and Arthur Cecil, born on 10 April 1902.

Dixon’s career as an illustrator appears to have begun in 1899, when, amongst one or two other books, he illustrated an edition of a Charles Dickens story, The Holly Tree, for Ernest Nister. Over the following ten years he went on to illustrate around 20 books for the firm, while also working for other publishers, in particular Raphael Tuck & Sons, for whom he illustrated a number of books including tales re-written from Shakespeare, Longfellow and Tennyson, and fairy stories. One of his best-known works from this time was for L.L. Weedon’s Child Characters from Dickens (Ernest Nister, 1905), for which he provided 6 colour plates and 70 halftone illustrations.

He also began working for Blackie & Son, for whom he went on to illustrate several girls’ stories, including four of Angela Brazil girls’ school stories, and two by Elsie J. Oxenham.  He also illustrated an edition of Tom Brown’s Schooldays for James Nisbet & Co. in 1903.

He continued to work with Blackie & Son until the mid-1950s, illustrating a variety of books including several volumes of religious works written by Theodora Wilson Wilson, a noted pacifist and Quaker. Throughout his career, he was used by Collins to illustrate re-issues of classic novels by authors such as Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, W.M. Thackeray, Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. He also provided illustrations for several volumes of poetry, including collections by Matthew Arnold, John Keats and Lord Tennyson. (These were all issued in Collins’s Illustrated Pocket Classics series, which was launched in 1903, and were generally undated). He also designed illustrated endpapers for many Collins books. He also illustrated re-issues of classic novels for Blackie & Son, Nister, Anthony Treherne, and the Oxford University Press.

He appears to have done very little work for periodicals, with only a handful of illustrations for Pearson’s Magazine and The Sunday at Home identified. His work also occasionally appeared in annuals such as Collins’ Children’s Annual, The Schoolgirls’ Bumper Book, and Father Tuck’s Annual.

In 1909, one of his paintings. “The Sleeping Minstrel”, was issued as a print (and as a postcard) by Bovril Ltd., and given away in return for coupons from Bovril products. The same happened with another picture in 1912. By this time, Dixon had been exhibiting throughout the country, and this, coupled with his work as a book illustrator, meant that his name was familiar to many people.

By 1903 he had moved to Sussex, to The Firs, Shipley, near Petworth (where his son Arthur was born). By 1911, he had moved again, to The Briars, Shooters Way, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. At the time of the 1939 Register, he was living at 22 Greenway, Berkhamtsed, still working as an artist and book illustrator, although his output had radically declined. His wife died at 254 High Street, Berkhamsted (although her home address was given as 22 Greenway) on 22 September 1955.  Arthur Augustus Dixon died on 30 May 1959 at 22 Greenway, leaving an estate valued at just over £5,173 (around £104,000 in today’s terms). Probate was granted to his son, Arthur Cecil, a veterinary surgeon.

As an illustrator, his work was perhaps best summed-up in Brigid Peppin and Lucy Micklethait’s Dictionary of British Book Illustrators of the Twentieth Century: “His book illustrations, mainly in full colour or half tone, were conventional and prosaic with sentimental overtones, but generally competent.”


Books illustrated by A.A. Dixon
The Holly Tree by Charles Dickens, Ernest Nister, 1899
Cross Purposes; or, The Deanes of Dean's Croft by Emma Marshall, Griffith, Farran, Browne & Co., 1899
Three Little Spades by Anna Bartlett Warner, James Nisbet & Col., 1899(?) (re-issue)
A Big Temptation by L.T. Meade (and other authors), Ernest Nister, 1900
Bruno and Bimba: The Story of Some Little People by Evelyn Everett-Green, Ernest Nister, 1900
To Pay the Price by Silas Hocking, Frederick Warne & Co., 1900
The King’s Butterfly by Evelyn Everett-Green, Ernest Nister, 1900
Sunny Tales by Nora Hopper and other authors, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1901(?) (with other artists)
Guardian Angels: Poems and Stories by Nora Hopper, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1901 (with other artists)
A Princess’s Token by Evelyn Everett-Green, Ernest Nister, 1902
To the Rescue: A Tale of a London ‘Prentice Boy by Evelyn Everett-Green, Ernest Nister, 1902
Country Sketches from “Our Village” by Mary Russell Mitford, Blackie & Son, 1902
My Lady Joanna by Evelyn Everett-Green, James Nisbet & Co., 1902
The Secret of the Everglades: A Story of Adventure in Florida by Bessie Marchant, Blackie & Son, 1903
The Mystery of the Pine Wood, and The Hollow Tree House by L. Molesworth, Ernest Nister, 1903
The Witch Maid by L.T. Meade, James Nisbet & Co., 1903
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by An Old Boy (Thomas Hughes), James Nisbet & Co., 1903 (b & w frontis. & 2 b & w plates – a later edition had a colour frontis. & 3 col. Plates, and later editions had just a colour frontis.) (re-issues)
Child Characters from Dickens retold by L.L. Weedon, Ernest Nister, 1905
Ivanhoe: A Romance by Sir Walter Scott, Anthony Treherne & Co., 1905 (re-issue)
Christmas at Bracebridge Hall by Washington Irving, Ernest Nister, 1905 (re-issue)
Cranford by Mrs Gaskell, Blackie & Son, 1905 (re-issue)
Little Lady Val by Evelyn Everett-Green, Ernest Nister, 1905
The Swiss Family Robinson by J. Wyss (trans. By M. Wiss), Blackie & Son, 1905 (re-issue)
Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Blackie & Son, 1905 (re-issue)
Mistress Matchett’s Mistake by Emma Marshall, James Nisbet & Co., 1905 (re-issue)
Cranford by Mrs Gaskell, Blackie & Son, 1905 (re-issue)
The Courtship of Miles Standish by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ernest Nister, 1906 (re-issue)
Grandmother and Christmas Eve by Mary D. Brine, Ernest Nister, 1906 (re-issue)
Songs of Faith and Hope, Ernest Nister, 1906 (with other artists)
A Daughter of the Ranges: A Story of Western Canada by Bessie Marchant, Blackie & Son, 1906
The Gold of Chickare by Susan Warner, James Nisbet & Co., 1906(?)
Brightest and Best: Lights for Little Lives by Mrs H.A. Farley, Collins, 1906
In a Land of Beasts by Evelyn Everett-Green, Collins, 1906
Mother’s Little Man by Mary D. Brine, Ernest Nister, 1906(?)
The Fortunes of Philippa by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1907
The Boy Hero of Erin: The Story of Cuchulainn and the Champion of the Red Branch of Ulster retold by Charles Squire, Blackie & Son, 1907
Takes of a Fairy Court by Andrew Lang, Collins, 1907
Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ernest Nister, 1907 (re-issue)
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club by Charles Dickens, Oxford University Press, 1907 (re-issue)
Pamela’s Hero: A Tale of the Gordon Riots by Pamela Moore, Blackie & Son, 1908
The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley, Ernest Nister, 1908
Faith Gartney’s Girlhood by Mrs A.D.T. Whitney, Blackie & Son, 1908 (re-issue)
Fairy Tales by Edouard Laboulaye, Ernest Nister, 1909
Good Comrades: A Story of a Little German Boy and His Dog by M.S.S., Blackie & Son, 1909
The Third Class at Miss Kaye’s by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1909
The Red Cap of Liberty by L.T. Meade, James Nisbet & Co., 1909
The Nicest Girl in the School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1910
Fairy Tales by Wilhelm Hauff, trans. by L.L. Weedon, Ernest Nister, 1910
The King’s Lige: A Story of the Days of Charles I by H.A. Hinkson, Blackie & Son, 1910
Tales from the Arabian Knights, Children’s Press, 1910(?) (with other artists) (re-issue)
The All Fairy Book, Collins, 1910(?) (with other artists)
The Manor House School by Angela Brazil, Blackie & Son, 1911
The Red Knight: A Tale of the Days of King Edward III by G.I. Witham, Blackie & Son, 1911
The House of the Five Poplars by Lucy Crump, Blackie & Son, 1911
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam trans. by Edward Fitzgerald, Cassell & Co., 1911
A Search for a Secret by G.A. Henty, Gall & Inglis, 1911 (re-issue)
Betty’s Next Term by Lilian F. Wevill, Blackie & Son, 1912
Terry the Girl Guide by Dorothea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1912
The Sultan: A Romance of the Harem of Abdul Hamid by Djelal Noury Bey, Cassell & Co., 1912
The Basket of Flowers: A Tale for the Young by Christoph von Schmid, Blackie & Son, 1912(?)
Shakespeare Stories for Children by E. Nesbit, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1912(?) (with other artists)
Children’s Stories from Longfellow by Doris Ashley, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1914 (with other artists)
Children’s Stories from Tennyson by Nora Chesson, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1914 (with other artists)
Granny’s Wonderful Chair by Frances Browne, Blackie & Son, 1914 (re-issue)
Schoolgirls and Scouts by Elsie J. Oxenham, Collins, 1914
Stories from the Bible by T.W. Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1914
Fairy Fancies, Collins, 1914(?)
When Aunt Lil Took Charge by May Wynne, Blackie & Son, 1915
Tony’s Chums: A Tale of a Summer Holiday by May Wynne, Blackie & Son, 1915
The Saviour of the World by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1915
Tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Doris Ashley, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1915(?)
Great men and Women of the Bible by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1915(?)
A Book of Miracles by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie Son, 1915(?)
The Boyhood of Jesus by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1915(?)
Things will take a Turn by Beatrice Harraden, Blackie & Son, 1915 (with J.H. Bacon) (re-issue)
My Fairy Tale Book, Blackie & Son, 1916
The Precious Gift: Bible Stories for Children by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Co., 1916
Rulers of the Bible: Scripture Stories for Children by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1916
Children's Stories from Russian Fairy Tales and Legends trans. and adapted by Seraphima Pulma, Raphael Tuck &Sons, 1917
The Children’s Jesus by E.B. Trist, S.P.C.K., 1919
The Abbey Girls by Elsie J. Oxenham, Collins, 1920
The Heroes, or Greek Fairy Tales for Children by Charles Kingsley, Blackie & Son, 1920
The Child’s Life of Christ by H.R. Haweis, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1921
Moses and the Promised Land: Scripture Stories for Children by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1922(?)
A Baby’s Life of Jesus Christ by Mary F. Rolt, S.P.C.K., 1923
Fairy Tales for the Schoolroom, Gresham Publishing Co., 1923 (with other artists)
The Candle of the North; Stories from the Venerable Bede by C.M.D. Jones, A.R. Mowbray & Co., 1924
Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1924 (with H.M. Brock)
The Happy Story Book, Blackie & Son, 1925 (with other artists)
The Story of the Golden Fleece by M.W. Jennings, Blackie & Son, 1928
Two Little Gardeners edited by Mrs Herbert Strang, Oxford University Press, 1929
Tales from History by N. Niemeyer, Collins, 1932
That Aggravating Schoolgirl by Grace Stebbing, James Nisbet & Co., 1930 (re-issue)
The Little Ones’ Lord, S.P.C.K., 1943
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by An Old Boy (Thomas Hughes), J.W. Butcher, (?) (col. fronts. from Nisbet editions)
Pictures from the Old Testament, Blackie & Son, 1953
Pictures from the New Testament, Blackie & Son, 1954

Re-issues of classic novels by Collins – dates sometimes uncertain or unknown
The Professor at the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1905(?)
Henry Esmond by W.M. Thackeray, 1905
A Noble Life by Mrs Craik, 1905(?)
North and South by Mrs Gaskell, 1905(?)
Hard Cash by Charles Reade 1905(?)
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1905(?)
Stories and Sketches by Charles Dickens, 1905(?)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, 1906
Reprinted Pieces by Charles Dickens, 1906
American Notes by Charles Dickens, 1906(?)
Christmas Books by Charles Dickens, 1907
The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1907
The Last Days of Pompeii by Lord Lytton, 1908
Middlemarch by George Eliot, 1908
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, 1908
The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte M. Yonge, 1908(?)
The Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold, 1908(?)
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, 1910(?)
The Poetical Works of John Keats, 1910(?)
The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas, 1910(?)
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, 1910(?)
Hereward the Wake by Charles Kingsley, 1910(?)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, 1910(?)
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, 1910(?)
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, 1910(?)
Mona Maclean, Medical Student by Graham Travers, 1910
Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo, 1910
The Uncommercial Traveller by Charles Dickens, 1914
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Collins, 1915(?)
Roundabout Papers by W.M. Thackeray, 1918(?)
John Halifax, Gentleman by Mrs Craik, 1920(?)
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, 1920(?)
Ungava: A Tale of Esquimaux Land by R.M. Ballantyne, 1920(?)
Poetic Gems by Matthew Arnold
The Daisy Chain, or Aspirations: A Family Cronicle by Charlotte M. Yonge
Gems from Tennyson by Alfred Tennyson

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