Saturday, June 30, 2018

Joseph Finnemore

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Joseph Finnemore was yet another artist who was equally at home painting in oils and watercolours as he was producing black and white halftone illustrations for books and periodicals. He was particularly known for his Boer War illustrations for The Sphere in 1900, and his illustrations for boys’ adventure and historical stories, which he produced from the late 1880s to the 1930s.

He was born on 8 January 1860 in the parish of St. George, Birmingham, the second son of William Richard Finnemore (1835-1891) and Charlotte Anne, née Munro (1836-1878). His siblings were William (born in 1857), John (1863), Mary Jane (1868), Robert (1870), and Ellen Kate (1875). (John Finnemore went on to have a career as both a schoolmaster and author, writing many boys’ stories including the Teddy Lester series of school stories. Surprisingly, perhaps, Joseph only illustrated one of his books, A Captive of the Corsairs, published in 1906).

The Finnemore family was closely tied to Birmingham, with William Richard Finnemore being a steel pen forming tool maker, and was presumably a member of the Finnemore family associated with the pen manufacturers Baker & Finnemore, established in 1850. In the 1861 census, the family was living at 275 New John Street West, Birmingham; ten years later they were at 3 Bright Place, Birmingham; and in 1881 at 95 Wills Street, Aston, Birmingham.

Most of the existing brief biographies of Finnemore quote from his newspaper obituaries (e.g. The Times, 22 December 1939), and state that he studied at the Birmingham School of Art and then in Antwerp under Charles Verlat, returning to England in 1881 and then undertaking a painting tour of Europe and the Near East, before settling in London in 1884. In fact, it seems to have been more complicated than that. It is known that he was at the Birmingham School of Art in 1878 and 1879 – in 1878 he passed 2nd grade exams in drawing, modeling, geometry and perspective, and in 1879 he was graded as “good” in an advanced art exam that required a still life painting. He may then have travelled to Antwerp, although exactly when is not clear – in the 1881 census he was recorded as an artist in oil paints, living with his widowed father and his siblings – but it is known that he was back at the Birmingham School of Art in 1883, when he was awarded several prizes for work in chalk, oils and watercolours, and in 1884 when he was a prize-winner in the National Art Competition. It is also said that, in the early 1880s, he undertook a painting tour of Europe, taking in Malta, Greece, Turkey, South Russia (where he was awarded a medal for portrait painting at the Triennial Exhibition on Odessa) and Bessarabia (now part of Moldovia and Ukraine). It may therefore have been the case that he took a break from studying in Birmingham to study in Antwerp and then took his painting tour.

It is also known that he was in Birmingham in 1887, when he married Emily Louisa Ankers, a dressmaker born in Birmingham in 1859 and the daughter of John Ankers, a gold chain maker. They went on to have four children: Ethelwyn (born on 22 June 1889), Hilda (born on 8 July 1891), Gordon Frank (1894), and Elaine (1902).

At the time of the 1891 census Joseph was recorded at 16 Nassington Road, Hampstead, with a domestic servant and a nurse, while his wife, with her daughter Ethelwyn, was visiting her sister in Colwyn Bay.

Joseph’s career as an illustrator appears to have begun in 1884, whilst he was still an art student, when he illustrated a serial (“Ivan Dobroff” by J.F. Hodgetts) in The Boy’s Own Paper. (He went on to illustrate several more serials, plus numerous short stories, for The B.O.P. up until around 1921). In 1885, he began working for The Graphic, and he also contributed to The Art Student: An Illustrated Magazine conducted by Members of the Birmingham School, of Art. He went on to work for a number of other periodicals in the 1880s and 1890s, including Cassell’s Saturday Journal, Atalanta, Little Folks, The Girl’s Own Paper, The English Illustrated Magazine, Sunday Reading for the Young, The Magazine of Art, The Strand Magazine, Black and White, Cassell’s Magazine, Chums, The Woman at Home, The Ludgate Monthly, The Wide World Magazine, The Captain, The London Magazine, The Harmsworth Magazine and Good Words.

His earliest book illustrations appeared in 1886, in three books published by Hodder & Stoughton. He went on to illustrate books, mainly children’s historical, adventure and school stories, for publishers such as Griffith & Farran, Cassell & Co., Raphael Tuck & Sons, Blackie & Son (including the first edition of G.A. Henty’s When London Burned in 1895), Ernest Nister, W. & R. Chambers, Collins, Andrew Melrose, George Newnes (for whom he provided 100 illustrations for an edition of The Swiss Family Robinson re-written by E.A. Brayley Hodgetts in 1897), Thomas Nelson & Sons, and, perhaps most importantly, the Religious Tract Society, for whom he worked until around 1930. In particular, he provided illustrations for several of Talbot Baines Reed’s novels.

Amongst other authors whose books he illustrated were H.C. Adams, Gordon Stables, Tom Bevan, W.H.G. Kingston and Ernest Protheroe. In their Dictionary of British Book Illustrators: The Twentieth Century, Brigid Peppin and Lucy Micklethwait noted that “His illustrations, in pen and ink, halftone, and, less often, in full colour, are reasonably competent and in many ways typify the ‘action pictures’ of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.” He sometimes signed his work “JF”.

As an artist, in oils and watercolours, he was highly-regarded. He appears to have first exhibited in Leamington in May 1882, and he went on to exhibit widely throughout the country, up until 1934, including at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1891, 1894, 1898, 1899 and 1901. He was a member of the Royal Society of British Artists, the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, the Society of Illustrators, the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, and the Royal Cambrian Society of Art.

In the early 1890s he designed Christmas cards for Hildesheimer & Faulkner, and went on to design Christmas cards and postcards for Raphael Tuck in the early 1900s, including cards printed for the Royal Family, and later for Gale & Polden.

In 1898 Finnemore was recorded as living at 76 Cecile Park, Crouch End, London, and three years later he and his family were at “Elmstone”, 23 Green Lane, Ruislip, where they were able to employ a housemaid and cook. He continued to work for various periodicals, including The Windsor Magazine, The Leisure Hour, Sunday at Home, Young England and The Quiver. He also contributed to several part-works, such as Cassell’s Battles of the Nineteenth Century and History of England, and George Newnes’s The Art Bible. In 1898 he provided seven illustrations for Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “The Story of the Black Doctor” in The Strand Magazine. His work also appeared in annuals such as Bright Eyes. Collins Adventure Annual and Collins Children’s Annual.

His work began to peter out in the 1920s. However, he was still exhibiting paintings as late as 1934, and in 1937 he designed a memorial window for the People’s Chapel in Great King Street, Birmingham, in memory of his brother William (who had died in 1935 after a long career in local politics) – they had both attended the Chapel’s Sunday School in the 1870s.

His wife died on 6 October 1930. In the 1939 Register (taken on 29 September) he was recorded at a nursing home (Carrick House, 67 Lansdowne Road) in Bournemouth. He died a few weeks later, on 18 December 1939, at his home in Green Lane, Ruislip, leaving an estate valued at £7,661 (around £450,000 in today’s terms). Probate was granted to his unmarried daughters Ethelwyn and Hilda, who had been working as an artist and author respectively and had been living with him at the time.

Amongst the books written by Hilda were Mountain Sides of Dreams (1914), Stories of Course (1921), A History of the Earth (1924), and Storm So Strenuous (1934). She also wrote short stories and newspaper features. She died on 25 October 1982, leaving an estate valued at £117,219 (around £327,000 in today’s terms). Ethelwyn, who had a minor career as a painter, presumably having been taught by her father, moved to Argyll in Scotland and changed her name to Ethelwyn Munro – she died in Birmingham on 23 January 1959. Finemore’s son Gordon became an assistant in the London County Council Architects Department, but died in 1912. His third daughter, Elaine (who, like her sisters, remained unmarried), died on 1 December 1985. It is not known how she had made a living, but her estate was valued at £204,247 (around £486,000 in today’s terms).

His brother John Finnemore became a schoolteacher, initially working in Birmingham and then, after his marriage to Eliza Emily Pearson (who went on to become a writer, of mainly religious works) moved to Suffolk. Within ten years they had moved to Blaenpennal, Wales, with John described as a schoolmaster and author. In the 1911 census the couple were living in Llanfarian, Wales. After publishing around 60 books, many of which were boys’ stories, he died, of heart failure, on 17 December 1915.


Books illustrated by Joseph Finnemore
Charlie Lucken at School and College by Rev. H.C. Adams, Hodder & Stoughton, 1886
A Christian Philanthropist of Dublin: A Memoir of Richard Allen by Hannah Maria Wigham, Hodder & Stoughton, 1886
On Special Service: A Tale of Life at Sea by Gordon Stables, Hodder & Stoughton, 1886
The White Man’s Foot by Grant Allen, Hatchards, 1888
The Traveller ed. by George Charles Haité, Griffith, Farran & Co., 1888
The Boy Hunters of Kentucky by Edward Sylvester Ellis, Cassell & Co., 1889
Red Feather: A Tale of the American Frontier by Edward Sylvester Ellis, Cassell & Co., 1889
The Last House in London by Crona Temple, Religious Tract Society, 1889
The Little Colonists, or King Penguin Island by Theo Gift, Griffith, Farran & Co., 1890
None but the Brave Deserves the Fair by E.M. Chettle, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1890
Longfellow Pictures, Ernest Nister, 1891 (with other artists)
Bert Lloyd’s Boyhood: A Story form Nova Scotia by J. Macdonald Oxley, Hodder & Stoughton, 1892
The Story of John G. Paton told for Young Folks, or Thirty Years Among South Sea Cannibals by James Paton, Hodder & Stoughton, 1892
In The Fifteen: A Tale of the First Jacobite Insurrection by H.C. Adams, Hodder & Stoughton, 1893
Just Like Jack: A Story of the Brine and the Breeze by Gordon Stables, Hodder & Stoughton, 1893
Gems from Scott’s Poems by Walter Scott, edited by Edric Walcott Vredenburg, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1893
A True Cornish Maid: A Story of the Last Century by George Norway, Blackie & Son, 1894
Fergus M’Tavish by J. Macdonald Oxley, Hodder & Stoughton, 1894
A Dozen All Told, being a set of twelve stories by various authors, Blackie & Son, 1894 (with other artists)
When London Burned: A Story of Restoration Times and the Great Fire by G.A. Henty, Blackie & Son, 1895
The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare, edited by Edric Vredenburg, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1895 (with Frank. L. Emanuel)
The Strange and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Mariner by Daniel Defoe, Ernest Nister, 1895 (re-issue)
At War with Pontiac, or The Totem of the Bear by Kirk Monroe, Blackie & Son, 1895
Don: A Novel by Evelyn Whitaker, W. & R. Chambers, 1895
The Girl at the Dower House and Afterward by Agnes Giberne, W. & R. Chambers, 1896
Abigail Templeton, or Brave Efforts: A Story of Today by Emma Marshall, W. & R. Chambers, 1896
Philippa by Mrs Molesworth, W. & R. Chambers, 1896
Roland Yorke by Mrs Henry Wood, Collins, 1896 (re-issue)
The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Ernest Nister, 1896 (along with Archibald Webb& G.D. Thompson) (re-issue)
The Boys of Huntingley: A School Story by K.M. & R. Eady, Andrew Melrose, 1897
In Strange Quarters: A Story of Constantinople by Edwin Hodder, Hodder & Stoughton, 1897
In The Fort by Sarah Tytler, Hodder & Stoughton, 1897 (re-issue)
The Swiss Family Robinson: A New Version by E.A. Brayley Hodgetts, George Newnes, 1897
O’er Tartar Deserts, or English and Russian in Central Asia by David Ker, W. & R. Chambers, 1898
“Sister”, A Tale by Evelyn Everett Green, T. Nelson & Sons, 1898
Brave Deeds of Youthful Heroes by various authors, Religious Tract Society, 1898 (with other artists)
Yule Logs by various authors, Longmans, Green & Co., 1898 (with other artists)
A Good-hearted Girl, or A Present-day Heroine by Emma Marshall, W. & R. Chambers, 1899
Yule-Tide Yarns by various authors, Longmans, Green & Co., 1899 (with other artists)
Boy Crusoes: A Story of the Siberian Forest adapted from the Russian by Léon Golsghmann, Blackie & Son, 1900
Kidnapped by Cannibals by Gordon Stables, Blackie & Son, 1900
The Fight for the Flag in South Africa: A History of the War from the Boer Ultimatum to the Advance by Lord Roberts by Edgar Sanderson, Hutchinson & Co., 1900
The Unjust Steward, or The Minister’s Debt by Mrs Oliphant, W. & R. Chambers, 1900
Old St. Paul’s: A tale of the Plague and the Fire by W. Harrison Ainsworth, Collins, 1900(?) (re-issue)
In Far Bolivia: A Story of a Strange Wild Land by Gordon Stables, Blackie & Son, 1901
With Wellington to Waterloo by Harold Avery, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1901
A Race with the Sun by L.T. Meade & Clifford Halifax, Ward, Lock & Co., 1901
Sunny Days for Boys and Girls by various authors, Miles & Miles, 1901 (with other artists)
In Quest of the Giant Sloth: A Tale of Adventure in South America by Gordon Stables, Blackie & Son, 1902
Kormack the Viking by J. Frederick Hodgetts, Religious Tract Society, 1902
Half-Hours with Great Authors: Scott, Raphael Ruck & Sons, 1902
Follow the Gleam: A Tale of the Time of Oliver Cromwell by Joseph Hocking, Hodder & Stoughton, 1903
Clive Forrester’s Gold by Charles Richard Kenyon, Religious Tract Society, 1904
Tamate: The Life and Adventures of a Christian Hero by Richard Lovett, Religious Tract Society, 1904
A Hero in Wolf-skin: A Story of Pagan and Christian by Tom Bevan, Religious Tract Society, 1904
The Slave in History: His Sorrows and His Emancipation by William Stevens, Religious Tract Society, 1904
Deals by Barry Pain, Hodder & Stoughton, 1904
Hendricks the Hunter, or The Border Farm: A Tale of Zululand by W.H.G. Kingston, Hodder & Stoughton, 1904 (re-issue)
The Heir of Bragwell Hall by Alfred Beer, Religious Tract Society, 1904
Roger Ingleton, Minor by Talbot Baines Reed, Religious Tract Society, 1904, (re-issue)
The Deceiver by Leslie Keith, Religious Tract Society, 1905
A Trooper of the Finns: A Tale of the Thirty Years’ War by Tom Bevan, Religious Tract Society, 1905
Remarkable Adventures from Real Life by various authors, Religious Tract Society, 1905
The Ambitions of Jenny Ingram: A True Story of Modern Life by Flora Klickmann, Religious Tract Society, 1905
Gwendoline by Agnes Giberne, Religious Tract Society, 1905 (re-issue)
Bishop Hannington: The Life and Adventures of a Missionary Hero by W. Gronton Berry, Religious Tract Society, 1906
A Captive of the Corsairs by John Finnemore, T. Nelson & Sons, 1906
The Bottom of the Bread Pan by Eleanora Stooke, Religious Tract Society, 1906
The Boy Settler, or The Adventures of Sydney Bartlett by H.C. Storer, Religious Tract Society, 1907
The Settlers of Karossa Creek and Other Stories of Australian Bush Life by Louis Becke, Religious Tract Society, 1907
In The Wilds of Florida: A Tale of Warfare and Hunting by W.H.G. Kingston, T. Nelson & Sons, 1907 (re-issue) (with W.S. Stacey)
St. Merville’s Scholarship Boys by Ernest Protheroe, Religious Tract Society, 1908
The Romance of Savage Life by G.F.S. Elliott, Seeley & Co., 1908 (with other artists)
The Highway of Sorrow: A Story of Modern Russia by Hesba Stretton, Religious Tract Society, 1908 (re-issue)
The Cruise of the Golden Fleece: A Story of Adventure in the Days of Philip and Mary by Sardius Hancock, Religious Tract Society, 1909
Swift and Sure: The Story of a Hydroplane by Herbert Strang, Hodder & Stoughton, 1909
For Queen and Emperor: A Story of Valour and Adventure by Ernest Protheroe, Religious Tract Society, 1909
Adventure Stories: Stirring Tales of Daring Deeds on Land and Sea by various authors, Religious Tract Society, 1909
Taken by Storm, or An Old Soldier’s Embarrassments by E.A.B.D, Religious Tract Society, 1909
Nobby’s Luck: A Story of School and After by Ernest Protheroe, Cassell & Co., 1910
A Northumbrian in Arms by George G. Surrey, Henry Frowde, 1910
The Shadow by Edward Harold Begbie, Religious Tract Society, 1910
Hector and Achilles: A Story of Troy by Richard Sheepshanks, William Blackwood & Sons, 1910
From Cadet to Captain by Col. J.P., Groves, Hodder & Stoughton, 1910 (re-issue)
The Belton Scholarship by Bernard Heldmann, Hodder & Stoughton 1910 (re-issue)
Meltonians All! By F. Cowley Whitehouse, Religious Tract Society, 1911
Sinclair of the Scouts, or With Bayonet and Barricade in West Africa by J. Claverdoon Wood, Religious Tract Society, 1911
The Story of Belinda by Frances Toft, Religious Tract Society, 1911
Gallant Sir John by Sardius Hancock, Religious Tract Society, 1912
Kitty O’Donovan: A School Story by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1912
A Fight for a Life: The Story of a West African Convert and His Friends by Frances Mary Hensley, Church Missionary Society, 1913
The Battle by the Lake by Dora Bee, Religious Tract Society, 1913
Three Men on a Chinese Houseboat: The Story of a River Voyage by William Munn, Church Missionary Society, 1913
The Heroes of Castle Bretten by Margaret S. Comrie, Religious Tract Society, 1914
Children’s Stories from English History edited by Edric Vredenburg, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1914 (with other artists)
The Animals’ Circus, Gale & Polden, 1915
Irene’s Lame Dogs by Evelyn R. Garratt, Religious Tract Society, 1916
The Book of Pirates by Henry Gilbert, George G. Harrap & Co., 1916
Boycotted, and Other Stories by Talbot Baines Reed, The “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1917
Doughty Deeds: Stories of Chivalry by Hammond Hall, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1917
Kingston’s Revenge: A Story of Bravery by Elizabeth Hely Walshe, Religious Tract Society, 1917
Stories of Royal Children from British History by Doris Ashley & others, Raphael Tuck & Sons, 1917 (with other artists)
Doctor Ogilvie’s Guest by Florence Bone, Religious Tract Society, 1918
Winifred Walton by Ella Stone, Religious Tract Society, 1919
Strange Diana by O.F. Walton, Religious Tract Society, 1919
The Golden City by Minnie Harding Kelly, Religious Tract Society, 1920
Lighted Candles, or The Girls of Barden School by Frances Stratton, Religious Tract Society, 1921
Chats Over a Pipe: A Tale of Two Brothers by James Glass, Simpkins, Marshall & Co., 1922
The Earl’s White Cross: A Tale of the Time of Henry III by David Ker, W. & R. Chambers, 1924
Refining Fires by Jeanie Ferry, Religious Tract Society, 1924
Wedded in Prison, and Other Quaker Stories by Maude Robinson, Swarthmore Press, 1925
Edith Lockhart, Third Form Girl by Edith L. Elias, Religious Tract Society, 1925
Sulgrave Manor: A Book of Sketches, Sulgrave Institute, 1925
Hutchinson’s Picturesque Europe, Hutchinson & Co., 1925 (with other artists)
Sir Knight of the Splendid Way by W.E, Cule, Religious Tract Society, 1926
Twenty-six Good Stories for Girls by various authors, The “Girl’s Own Paper” Office, 1926 (with other artists)
L.B.W.: A Prep School Story by R.L. Bellamy, The “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1929
The Children’s Wonder Book by various authors, Collins, 1933 (with other artists)
The Luck of the “Stedfast”: Being the Adventures of Three Comrades of the Boys’ Brigade in Search of Hidden Treasure by Herbert Reid, Collins, 1934
One Tree Island: The Strange Story of the Lost Treasure of the Whit Hut by Herbert Reid, Collins, 1935

Re-issues of Talbot Baines Reed’s boys’ schools stories, published by the Religious Tract Society – dates uncertain (circa 1913):
The Adventures of a Three Guinea Watch
Tom, Dick and Harry
The Master of the Shell
The Fifth Form at St. Dominic’s
The Cock-House at Fellsgarth
My Friend Smith

Other titles – dates not known:
Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley, Religious Tract Society (re-issue)
The Browning Birthday Book, Raphael Tuck & Sons
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, Collins, (re-issue)

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