Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tom Peddie

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Tom Peddie had two distinct artistic careers – firstly as a London-based illustrator for periodicals and children’s books between the late 1890s and the late 1920s, and then as a painter and muralist in his native Scotland.

He was born on 4 October 1874 in Musselburgh, Midlothian, and baptized as Thomas Hutchison Peddie. He was one of 8 children born to William Peddie, a baker, and his wife Margaret, née Hutchison. At the age of 16, whilst living with his parents at Perth Road, Scone, Perthshire, he was working as a house painter, but by 1893 he was studying at the Glasgow School of Art. In 1894, he was a prizewinner in The People’s Journal for an “amusing sketch.”

After finishing his studies, he moved to London, where, in 1898 in Wandsworth, he married Maud Worley, born in Iver, Buckinghamshire, in 1876 and the daughter of Samuel Worley, a farm labourer, and his wife Mary, a school caretaker. Tom and Maud went on to have four children: Philip Tom, born in 1899 at Endell Street, Long Acre, Covent Garden; Violet Mary, born in 1902 at 27 Coram Street, Bloomsbury; Maud Margaret, born in 1903 at Littlecroft, Hampton Road, Feltham; and Hugh Hutchison, born in 1914 at 57 Temple Fortune Hill, Hendon.

In the meantime, Peddie had begun his career as an illustrator with contributions to The Ludgate Monthly in 1898 and The Penny Pictorial Magazine in 1899. In the first decade of the 20th century his illustrations appeared in Short Stories, The Windsor Magazine, The Sunday Magazine, Good Words and Black and White. In 1908 he began a long association with the boys’ story paper Chums, and two years later he began an even longer association with Cassell’s Magazine (1910-1930), the same publisher’s The New Magazine (1910-1930), the Amalgamated Press’s Red Magazine (1910-1925), and George Newnes’s The Strand Magazine (1910-1929). His work for The Strand included illustrations for three Arthur Conan Doyle stories, “The Three of Them” in 1918, “Billy Bones” in 1922, and “The Maracot Deep” in 1927.

He also began illustrating children’s books in 1910, although only eleven have been identified. Most notable were the 38 illustrations he did for a volume of Enid Blyton’s The Teachers’ Treasury in 1926. He also supplied some illustrations for a revised edition of Hutchinson’s History of the Nations, published in 1914.

Brian Doyle, in his Who’s Who of Boys’ Writers and Illustrators (1964) commented that Peddie’s style “was rather like that of Thomas Henry’s and was best-suited to the lighter stories, especially humorous school yarns, though he could and did turn his hand to all types.” Certainly, there are echoes of Thomas Henry in some of Peddie’s illustrations, for example for The Windsor Magazine, and some of his other illustrations bear similarities to other artists such as Jessie Wilcox Smith and Susan Beatrice Pearse. Equally, he could turn his hand to historical scenes, and while not as good as other artists who specialized in this field, he was competent enough.

Having moved a few times since arriving in London, Peddie and his wife continued to live a fairly peripatetic life, moving to 29 Queen Anne Avenue, Bromley, Kent (1911), 57 Temple Fortune Hill, Hendon (1919), 59 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury (1922), and 19C Palace Gate, Kensington (1927). Throughout this period, Peddie worked for a further range of periodicals, including The Pall Mall Magazine, Cassell’s Magazine of Fiction, The Wide World Magazine, The Sunday at Home, The Yellow Magazine, The Home Magazine, Punch, The Quiver, The Crusoe Magazine and The Golden Magazine. In 1915 he began providing illustrations for the boys’ magazine The Captain, and three years later he began a 10-year association with The Boy’s Own Paper. He also designed several postcards, mostly of a whimsical/sentimental nature.

In around 1930 Peddie returned to Scotland, where he began his second career as a painter and muralist, settling at 22 King Street, Perth, and later at 3A Charlotte Street, Perth. One of his first apprentices/assistants was David Stratton Watt (1912-2008), who went on to become well-known for his paintings of the Scottish sport of curling. Amongst the work for which Peddie became known were murals in the Masonic Lodge in Atholl Crescent, Perth; murals on “The Queen Mary”; and murals of Mary Queen of Scots’ entry into Aberdeen in the dining room of the refurbished Douglas Hotel, Aberdeen, painted in 1937. He was also commissioned to paint 10 pictures for the dining room of the Gordon Hotel, Kingussie, Invernesshire, which he completed between 1936 and 1938. Three more of his paintings are owned by Perth and Kinross Council.

Peddie’s wife died in Eastbourne, Sussex, in 1935, and on 28 January 1944 Peddie married Mary Kennedy Mackay, born in Perth in 1893 and the daughter of Hugh Mackay, a painter and decorator. They had known each other since at least 1922, when they were neighbours in Golden Square. They went on to live at Fairmount, Melville Terrace, Glenfarg, Perth.

For some reason, Peddie briefly returned to illustration in 1953, when he was commissioned by the Amalgamated Press’s Len Matthews to illustrate five issues of the Thriller Comics Library, all of them adaptations of historical novels by Walter Scott, Charles Kingsley and Edward Bulwer Lytton.

Peddie died on 18 June 1954, at his home in Melville Terrace, after suffering from prostate cancer for five years.


Books illustrated by Tom Peddie
The Heart of Marylebone by “Handyside” (Emily Buchanan), Hutchinson & Co., 1910
The Lucas Girls, or The Man of the Family by Dorothea Moore, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1911
The Right Sort by L.H. Bradshaw, A. & C. Black, 1912
Alice Howell by M. Corbett Seymour, Religious Tract Society, 1912
Hutchinson’s History of the Nations ed. by Walter Hutchinson, Hutchinson & Co., 1914 (with other artists)
Round the Camp Fire by Herbert Strang, Oxford University Press, 1917
The Secret Channel and Other Stories of the Great War by Percy F. Westerman, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1918 (with other artists)
Songs of Joyland by Josiah Booth, Blackie & Son, 1919
The House of Gladness by Emma S. Allen, Religious Tract Society, 1921 (re-issue)
The Three Merles: A Boys’ School Story by R. St. C. Page, S.P.C.K., 1926
Hetty the Discoverer by Kate Mellersh, Religious Tract Society, 1926
The Teacher’s Treasury (Vol. 3) ed. by Enid Blyton, Home Library Book Co., 1926
The Adventures of Two Brothers and a Sister, J.M. Dent & Sons, 1927

Thriller Comics Library:     
No. 36   Castle Dangerous  1953
No. 48   Quentin Durward  1953
No. 52   Hereward the Wake  1953
No. 59   The Talisman  1954
No. 69   The Last of the Barons  1954


  1. Fascinating information as ever. I've got a page of artwork from Thriller #69 somewhere and have always wondered about the artist. Presumably it would have been one of the last things he drew.

  2. Odd to see Peddie's historical work called merely 'competent.' My intro to his work was through the Thriller Library adaptations. Splendid old-school pen and ink work bursting with drama and action. Did he really draw them while fighting cancer? Amazing.



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