Saturday, December 01, 2018

Ernest Hasseldine

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Ernest Hasseldine was jobbing illustrator, mainly of children’s books and periodicals, much of whose work remains unrecorded and unidentified. He was best-known in his home town of Harpenden, Hertfordshire, as a painter and designer between 1908 and 1944.

He was born in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, on 20 June 1875 – his father, Joseph, was a boot maker, born in Raunds, Northamptonshire, 1846, who had married Sarah Brawn, born in Winwick, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, in 1845, at Great Gidding, Huntingdon, on 29 April 1872. Ernest was the second of their four children.

The family moved to London some time after 1881, being recorded in the 1891 census at 39 Douglas Road, Willesden, with Joseph working as a commercial traveller, and Ernest working as an architect’s clerk. He became active in the local Wesleyan Juvenile Missionary Association and its school. He subsequently trained as an artist, although where and when is not known. At the time of the 1902 census, he was living (occupying a single room) at 6 Messina Avenue, Hampstead, working as an artist and designer.

Later that year he married Edith Mary Barrett, born on 23 September 1874 in Hampstead. They went on to have two children: Edith Marjorie, born on 25 July 1903, and Howard Ernest, born on 17 July 1906.

As an illustrator, Hasseldine’s earliest-known work was a series of illustrations for David Hobbs’s A Noble Champion, published by S.W. Partridge & Co. in 1902. In 1905, Hasseldine resigned from his work with the Wesleyan Missionary Association, because of ill-health, and moved to Harpenden, Hertfordshire, settling at Melrose Cottage, St. James Road. He immediately became active in local affairs, beginning with the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Leyton Road, where for a while he was the Co-Superintendent of the Sunday school and a member of the Sunday School Council, being appointed Superintendent of the School in 1915 (although again ill-health meant he had to resign in late 1917).

In the meantime, he had been working as both an artist, mainly in watercolours, and as an illustrator. Between 1907 and 1920 he illustrated at least nine children’s books, including two boy’s stories written by J. Harwood Panting and published by Frederick Warne & Co., two adventure stories published by S.W. Partridge & Co., and five titles issued by the Aldine Publishing Company.

During the First World War he was commissioned by the Church Army to produce posters appealing for funds to help Britain’s troops. He later did similar work for the Salvation Army and the South London Mission in Bermondsey. He became a member of the committee which raised funds for Harpenden’s Nursing Centre and, later, the Field House Hospital. In 1920 he designed the Harpenden War Memorial Cross, which was placed on Church Green. Ten years later, he became a founder-member of the Harpenden Preservation Society, and designed the Harpenden Sign, to commemorate the coronation of King George VI in May 1937. (The sign was replaced in 1949).

Although he was a keen painter, with a passion for landscapes and local scenes, often commissioned by local residents, most of Hasseldine’s income came from illustration. Much of this was religious in nature. It is known that for many years he provided illustrations for periodicals issued by the Harmsworth Press, including Arthur Mee’s The Children’s Encyclopaedia, although much of his work remains to be identified. Between 1923 and 1925 he illustrated 13 titles written by Rev. W.T. Balmer for the Atlantis Press and distributed in Africa – these were basic readers written in both English and African languages.

In around 1927 he and his wife moved to 12 Elliswick Road, Harpenden, although in 1928 they were also recorded in the Electoral Register at 102 Belsize Road, Camden, London. They later, in around 1935, moved to 33 Fairmead Avenue, Harpenden, and in 1941 they moved again, to 4 Overstone Road, Harpenden.

Hasseldine’s last work appeared in Ballads of Bermondsey, published by the Epworth Press in 1943. He died a year later, on 27 October 1944, at the Harpenden Auxiliary Hospital, after a short illness, leaving an estate valued at just £1,911. His wife subsequently went to live with her sister Eleanor Barrett at 27 Overstone Road, where she died on 14 June 1954.


Compiled by Ernest Hasseldine
War Cartoons, New Zealand Bible, Tract & Book Society, 1917
The Fairy Fiddler   1917(?)
The Fairy Horsemen,  1918(?)

Illustrated by Ernest Hasseldine
A Noble Champion by David Hobbs, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1902
The Hero of Garside School by J. Harwood Panting, Frederick Warne & Co., 1907
The Two Runaways by J. Harwood Panting, Frederick Warne & Co., 1908
Dick’s Daring, or The Secret of Toulon by Arthur Holland Biggs, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1909
Alison’s Quest, or The Mysterious Treasure by Florence Bone, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1910
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Aldine Publishing Co, 1910(?) (re-issue)
Fairy Stories from France, Aldine Publishing Co., 1917(?)
Old World Stories, Aldine Publishing Co., 1918 (Tales for Little People)
The Story of the Shepherds, with other New Testament Tales by Rev. J. Crowle-Smith, Aldine Publishing Co., 1919
Old World Stories from the Old Testament by Rev. J. Crowle-Smith, Aldine Publishing Co., 1919
Princes: White and Black by Basil Matthews, Aldine Publishing Co., 1922
The Story of Robinson Crusoe, Retold Especially for Young Folk by Wingrove Willson, Aldine Publishing Co., 1922
The Story of Ulysses, Aldine Publishing Co., 1922 (Tales for Little People)
“City of Laughter, City of Tears”: A Record of Christian Work in the Slums, The South London Mission, 1922
The Law of the Friend by W.T. Balmer, Atlantis Press, 1924
Hutchinson’s Picturesque Europe by Walter Hutchinson, Hutchinson & Co., 1925  (with other artists)
Tales of God’s Packmen by Edwin W. Smith, British & Foreign Bible Society, 1928
The Glory in the Garret by Walter Spencer, Epworth Press, 1932
Ballads of Bermondsey by Leslie Davison, Epworth Press, 1943

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