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Saturday, September 01, 2018

Nat Long

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Nat Long had a 30-year career as a commercial artist and illustrator, although much of his work appears to be uncredited and unrecorded. He was, perhaps, best-known for a number of covers and dustwrappers for, mainly, thriller and crime novels in the 1930s and 1940s, and for his illustrations for editions of Tom Brown’s Schooldays and The Coral Island in 1948. It is also known that he had a long association with the publishers Birn Brothers, who specialized in greeting cards and postcards and cheap children’s story and picture books.

He was born on 12 January 1893 in Christchurch, Bournemouth (then in Hampshire), and named Nathaniel John Long. His father, also named Nathaniel, was a general labourer, born in Bournemouth in 1873, one of several children of Matthew and Emily Long. Nathaniel senior married Levina Ann Curtis in Christchurch in early 1892, but he appears to have been a rather unpleasant character. The Bournemouth Guardian reported on 6 August 1892 that he had been fined 5 shillings for drunkenness, and the same newspaper reported on 6 January 1894 that he had been bound over to keep the peace for 12 months after being convicted of fighting. Later that year, The Southern Echo (18 October) reported that he had been charged with threatening to kill his wife, although the Magistrate’s Bench declared that his wife was nearly as much to blame – he has ordered to pay costs and bound over for two months.

This appears to have led Nathaniel and his son to move to Southwark, London. On 24 October 1898 Nathaniel junior was enrolled in Waterloo Street School, Southwark (with his address given as 61 Hodson Street), and on 27 June 1899 he was enrolled at Pocock Street School, having moved to Warwick Street, Southwark. Father and son remained in Warwick Street for the next few years, although not without further trouble – in February 1901 Nathaniel senior, still working as a labourer, was convicted of disorderly conduct and assaulting two police constables, and was jailed for 21 days with hard labour (The South London Press, 16 February 1901).

By 1904, he and his son had returned to Bournemouth, where in June 1904 he, along with his younger brother George (born in 1887) were found guilty of a breach of the peace and ordered to pay costs (The Western Gazette, 24 June 1904).

At the time of the 1911 census, the young Nathaniel was working as a page at a boarding house at 9 Chine Road, Bournemouth. However, later that year he enrolled at the Bournemouth West School of Science and Art in Poole Hill, Bournemouth.

His career as an artist was temporarily postponed by the outbreak of the First World War. He joined the 1/4th Battalion of the Royal Hampshire Regiment and served as a signaller in Mesopotamia and Persia between 1915 and 1918. During his time overseas he practiced his art, and in February 1920 he exhibited around 60 black and white drawings and watercolours, produced when he was in the Far East, at his old college (by then the Bournemouth Municipal College). Later that year he married Rose Helen Turner, born on 18 January 1895, the daughter of John Turner, an auctioneer, in Christchurch. They subsequently moved to 12 Ashgrove Road, Bromley, Kent, where they remained until the mid-1930s.

It is not known exactly when Long established himself as an illustrator. His earliest-known work was a series of illustrations for Cassell & Co.’s The New Magazine and Cassell’s Magazine in 1928, and the Amalgamated Press’s The Corner Magazine and The Thriller in 1929. His work also appeared in Little Folks in the early 1930s. At roughly the same time he began providing dustjackets for a variety of publishers, including Hurst & Blackett, John Long, Collins, Jarrolds and the Eldon Press. He was less prolific as a book illustrator, with his earliest illustrations appearing in a horror/mystery story by Walter S. Masterman in 1932. He signed his work wither “Nat Long” or “NL.”

He also produced a handful of etchings and aquatints in the 1930s, art deco portrayals of nude young women in boats or on water.

At the time of the 1939 Register Long and his wife (they appear to have had no children) were living at 10 Stone Road, Bromley, with Long described as a “Commercial Artist and Illustrator.” He also had a studio at 5 New Court, Carey Street, between around 1930 until at least 1948.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s he illustrated a handful of children’s books, including an abridged edition of Tom Brown’s Schooldays for W. Foulsham & Co. (which had a dustwrapper by G.W. Goss). He was equally at home illustrating adventure stories as he was fairy stories and other books for younger children, and it is surprising that he didn’t illustrate more books. However, it may be that much of his work was unsigned and uncredited – it is known that he worked for Birn brothers in the early 1950s, and several of their titles for young children carry Long-style illustrations. It is also thought that he provided the eight colour plates in Flights into the Future, an anthology of science fiction stories for children by authors including Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle, published by the Thames Publishing Company in 1948. Rather strangely, however, some of his plates did not illustrate the stories but rather showed the British Interplanetary Society’s plans for a moon landing.

His work also appeared in a number of large-format children’s books such as The Modern Book for Boys, The Splendid Book for Boys, Boys’ Sporting Stories and Popular Stories for Girls, all published by Birn Brothers.

In the 1940s he provided around 9 covers for the magazine Britannia and Eve, and in 1948 he provided the cover for the first and only issue of Amorous Confessions, published by Rayburn Productions.

His main work throughout the 1940s and early 1950s was the production of dustjackets and, more importantly perhaps, covers for paperbacks. Between 1941 and 1944 he designed numerous covers for C. Tinling & Co.’s series of cheap novelettes for women, and he went on to produce many more covers for publishers such as T.A. Pemberton, the Archer Press, Martin & Reid and Curtis Warren, from around 1949 onwards specialising in covers for Westerns.

He appears to have stopped working towards the end of 1953, either because of ill health or because of a declining market for the type of fiction he was illustrating. He died, at Guy’s Hospital, London, on 5 October 1955, leaving an estate valued at £7,153 (around £170,000 in today’s terms). His wife died in a nursing home in Horsham, Sussex, on 6 December 1975, leaving £9,106.

Nat Long was a versatile if not first-rate artist. He could turn his hand to a variety of genres and styles, although his work for older children had a certain stilted and simplistic quality. His best work was arguably that which he did for younger children, where his style of cheerful colour was well-suited, and his dustwrappers and paperback covers for adult novels. (The list of dustwrappers and covers which follows is undoubtedly very incomplete, but it does give a flavor of the various genres he was asked to illustrate).


Books illustrated by Nat Long
The Flying Beast by Walter S. Masterman, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1932
Stories of Detection ed. by R.W. Jepson, Longmans, Green & Co., 1939
Essays and Sketches by A.J. Merson, Longmans, Green & Co., 1939
Peter Darington, Seaman Detective by Douglas V. Duff, Thames Publishing Co., 1948
A Tale About Timothy by Lindie Leigh, Partridge Publications, 1948
Flights into the Future by various authors, Thames Publishing Co., 1948
Jack and the Beanstalk, Birn Brothers, 1948
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes, W. Foulsham & Co., 1948 (re-issue)
The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne, W. Foulsham & Co., 1948 (re-issue)
Conquerors of the Air by Harry Harper, Thames Publishing Co., 1948 (cover)
My Favourite Story, Thames Publishing Co., 1949 (with other artists)
Picture Pages from Britain’s History, Raphael Tuck & Sons, (1940s?)
The Best Term Ever by Cecilia Falcon, Thames Publishing Co., 1952
The Mystery of Torland Manor by Aylmer Hall, George G. Harrap & Co., 1952
In the Footsteps of Jesus by Rev. Leighton Houghton, Purnell, 1965 
Horses and Ponies of the World by Phyliss Briggs, 1966

Covers and dustjackets
Sunblinds by Phyllis Austin, Literary Press, (date?) (re-issue) (paperback)
Misty Angel by Oliver Sandys, Hurst & Blackett, 1930 (paperback)
I Like a Good Murder by Marcus Magill, Alfred A. Knopf, 1930
The Screen of Life by N. Wheatcroft Holmes, Wright & Brown, 1931
Drums in the Night by Clements Ripley, Hurst & Blackett, 1931
The Philosopher’s Murder Case by Jack Randall Crawford, John Long, 1932
The Shadow on Mockways by Marjorie Bowen, Collins, 1932
The Yellow Fiend by W. J. Elliott, Mellifont Press, 1932 (paperback)
Tremaine of Texas by W.D. Hoffman, Eldon Press, 1933
Rhodesian Farm by Jane England, Hurst & Blackett, 1933
The Flying Argosy by Arthur J. Rees, Jarrold & Sons, 1934
Half Sisters by Hebe Elsna, Hurst & Blackett, 1934
Riding the High Country by Patrick T. Tucker, Philip Allan 1936
Men Against Peril by Stanley Snaith, Obros Press, 1936
Kill in the Ring by John Haslette Vahey, Collins, 1938
Blood of the North by James B. Hendryx, Jarrold & Sons, 1938
Conquerors of the Air by Harry Harper, Thames Publishing, 1940
Outlaws of Paradise Valley by Thornton Hill, Eldon Press, 1940
(Many covers for Women’s 2½d Novels, Women’s 4½d Novels, Women’s 6d Novels, C. Tinling & Co., 1941-44, paperbacks)
Men are Scarce by Helena Gross, Collins, 1943
Escape to Eternity by W.B.M. Ferguson, John Long, 1944
Miss Streamline by Constance M. Evans, Mills & Boon, 1944
The Harvey Girls by Samuel Hopkins Adams, John Long, 1944
Tales of the Turf  by Captain X, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1944
It Happened in Cairo by Kathlyn Rhodes Hutchinson & Co., 1944
Steps to Murder by Robert Portner Koehler, T. A. Pemberton, 1944 (paperback)
Love at the Crossroads by Margaretta Brucker, T. A. Pemberton, 1944 (paperback)
The Cinema Crimes by John Creasey, T. A. Pemberton, 1944 (paperback)
Hail McLean! By George Goodchild, Hodder & Stoughton, 1945
One from Five and Murder’s Out of Tune by John W. Lee, Halle, 1946
Ace of the Diamond Deuce by Chuck Stanley, Quality Press, 1946
Death Wears a Scarab by Amelia R. Long, Quality Press, 1946
Hard-Hearted Lover by Olive Baxter, Wright & Brown, 1946
Dream Come True and Other Stories by J. Radford Evans, Pictorial Art, 1946 (paperback)
She Danced Into His Heart and Other Stories by Pat Futrelle, Pictorial Art, 1946
The Case of the Missing Lady and Other Stories by R. Thurston Hopkins, Pictorial Art, 1946 (paperback)
Corpses Can Walk and Other Stories by R. Thurston Hopkins, Pictorial Art, 1946 (paperback)
Death of a Critic and Other Stories by William Norman, Pictorial Art, 1946 (paperback)
Maid of Honour by Paul Sabre, Pictorial Art, 1946 (paperback)
The Sign of Blood by Penny Street, Pictorial Art, 1946 (paperback)
Too Many Murderers by George Childerness, T. A. Pemberton, 1946 (paperback)
Murder in a Madhouse by C. B. Molyneaux, T. A. Pemberton, 1946 (paperback)
Murderess? by Pearl Bellairs, T. A. Pemberton, 1946 (paperback)
Watching Eyes by T. C. Bridges, T. A. Pemberton, 1946 (paperback)
The Unknown Mr. Alias by John Cathcart, T. A. Pemberton, 1946 (paperback)
Temptation by Hedley Richards, T. A. Pemberton, 1946 (paperback)
Lovers Choice by Margaretta Brucker, T. A. Pemberton, 1947 (paperback)
There Goes the Bride by Margaretta Brucker, T. A. Pemberton, 1947 (paperback)
Stranger’s Child by Juliet Armstrong, Mills & Boon, 1947
Fireway by Thornton Hill, Eldon Press, 1947
Love at the Crossroads by Margaretta Brucker, T. A. Pemberton, 1948 (paperback)
Puma Pistoleers by Lee Floren, Archer Press, 1949 (paperback)
Sonora Stage by Lee Floren, Archer Press, 1949 (paperback)
The Crimson Highwayman by William Dawson Hoffman, Archer Press, 1949 (paperback)
Hampton of the Water-Guns by William Dawson Hoffman, Archer Press, 1949 (paperback)
The Maverick Man by William Dawson Hoffman, Archer Press, 1949 (paperback)
Tracker Teague of Texas by William Dawson Hoffman, Archer Press, 1949 (paperback)
Frontier Sheriff by John Theydon, Curtis Warren, 1949 (paperback)
Texas Guns by Jesse Reed, Curtis Warren, 1949 (paperback)
American Western by Rex Noland and three others, Grant Hughes, 1949 (paperback)
Renegades’ Rendezvous by John Theydon, Martin & Reid, 1949 (paperback)
Gun Branded by L & W Townsend, Martin & Reid, 1949 (paperback)
Ridin’ High by L & W Townsend, Martin & Reid, 1949 (paperback)
Six Gun Serenade by Buck Rogers, Martin & Reid, 1949? (paperback)
Tenderfoot Trail by Buck Rogers, Martin & Reid, 1949? (paperback)
Payoff at Pine Bluff by Buck Rogers, Martin & Reid, 1949? (paperback)
Trouble at the Double X by Buck Rogers, Martin & Reid, 1949? (paperback)
The Painted Lady by Buck Rogers, Martin & Reid, 1949? (paperback)
Killers of Snake Creek by Tex Carter, Martin & Reid, 1950? (paperback)
Border Feud by Tex Carter, Martin & Reid, 1950? (paperback)
Outlaw Feud by Webb Anders, Curtis Warren, 1950? (paperback)
Fighting Rangers by J. A. Jordan, Curtis Warren, 1950 (paperback)
Outlaw’s Pass by Hank Larsen, Curtis Warren, 1950 (paperback)
Rustlers Creek by John Theydon, Curtis Warren, 1950 (paperback)
Six Gun Trail by John F. Watt, Curtis Warren, 1950 (paperback)
Rustler’s Frontier by Hank White, Curtis Warren, 1950 (paperback)
Rim Rock Range by Hamilton Craigie, Archer Press, 1950 (paperback)
A Gentleman from Texas by William Dawson Hoffman, Archer Press, 1950 (paperback)
The Hawk of the Mesquitals by William Dawson Hoffman, Archer Press, 1950 (paperback)
Riders of Devil’s Fork by Glenn Morton, Hamilton & Co., 1950 (paperback)
The Man From Sonora by William Hopson, Brown Watson, 1950 (paperback)
Border Bonanza by Walker A. Tompkins, Brown Watson, 1950 (paperback)
Everything is Quite Alright by Wendell Wilcox, Brown Watson, 1950 (paperback)
Bandit’s Trail by Tex Faro, Curtis Warren, 1952 (paperback)
Border Feud by Chuck Adams, John Spencer, 1953 (paperback)
Guns of Ghost Town by Chuck Adams, John Spencer, 1953 (paperback)
Gunsmoke Breed by Tex McCoy, Edwin Self, 1954 (paperback)

1 comment:

  1. He also illustrated the dust cover for 'The Story of a New Zealand River' by Jane Mander, published by Whitcombe and Tombs, Auckland, New Zealand in 1938.