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Sunday, February 03, 2019

A S Boyd

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

A.S. Boyd was a Scottish illustrator, cartoonist and painter, who was best-known for his work with The Graphic and Punch. He also illustrated a variety of books, including many with a Scottish background, and several girls’ stories by authors such as May Baldwin and L.T. Meade.

He was born on 7 February 1854 in Glasgow, and baptised as Alexander Stuart Boyd on 26 March 1854. (His second name occasionally appears in official records as “Stewart”.) His father, Alexander Boyd, was a muslin manufacturer, who had married Janet Mathieson on 5 June 1851. Alexander Stuart was the second of their four children. At the time of the 1861 census, the family was living at 156 Crown Street, Govan, Glasgow.

His interest in art was stimulated when he was recovering from a serious illness when he was around four years old, and an aunt bought him some illustrated papers and a box of paints. He was subsequently encouraged by a neighbor, James Cowan (who later became his brother-in-law), an amateur artist who was an early member of the Glasgow Art Club. He was then taught drawing at his local day school. However, after leaving school he began working as a clerk for the Royal Bank of Scotland in Glasgow, whilst painting and sketching in his spare time. At the time of the 1871 census, he was living with his widowed mother (his father had died in 1865) and his siblings at 2 Allanton Terrace, Govan. After six years with the bank, and probably inspired by having a painting exhibited at the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts in 1877, he decided to become a professional artist. He studied with the life class at the Glasgow Art Club, and in 1880 he spent a few months at Heatherley’s Art School in London.

In the meantime, he had begun his career as an illustrator, having been commissioned to illustrate a serial by Sarah Tyler in the periodical Good Words in 1879. In March 1881 he joined the staff of the newly-launched Quiz, a Glasgow-based loose equivalent of Punch. He stayed there for seven years, producing comic black and white sketches, and then joined The Bailie, another Glasgow periodical which had been founded in 1872. For both periodicals, he used the pseudonym “Twym.”  Many of his illustrations from these two publications were collected in book-form in Glasgow Man and Women, published in 1905 by Hodder & Stoughton. In 1884 he contributed to the Glasgow magazine Sunday Talk.

On 6 August 1880 he married Mary Rennie Wilson Kirkwood at Frankfield House, Millerston, Glasgow. Born on 15 October 1860, she was the daughter of James Dunlop Kirkwood, am accountant, and his wife Agnes, née Marshall. The couple moved to 100 Buccleuch Street, Glasgow, Boyd having previously been living in Langside Road, Govan. In 1887 they moved to 257 West George Street, Glasgow, where they had their only child, Alexander Stuart, on 7 June 1887.

By then, Boyd had illustrated at least six books, beginning with Leaves of Healing for the Bereaved, published by Houlston & Sons in 1880. He was also exhibiting his paintings regularly – he had exhibited with the Glasgow Art Club since 1879; he was also a regular exhibitor with the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts (every year between 1882 and 1889); in 1882 he was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Watercolour Society; and throughout the remainder of the 1880s he also exhibited with the Royal Scottish Academy of Arts, the Kilmarnock Fine Art Institute, the Glasgow Society of Painters in Watercolours, and, in 1887 and 1896, at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

In 1890 he was appointed as the Glasgow Correspondent of the newly-launched Daily Graphic. In the summer of 1891 he was invited to join the staff of The Daily Graphic’s parent paper, The Graphic, in London by its editor W.L. Thomas. He therefore left Glasgow, in October that year, and settled at “The Hut”, 17 Boundary Road, St. John’s Wood.

He subsequently more or less abandoned painting (other than having a picture exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1909, along with one by his son, who had adopted the name Stuart Boyd) in favour of illustration. In 1892 he began contributing to The Idler, which had been launched in February that year by the author Robert Barr (with Jerome K. Jerome as co-editor), and a year later he began contributing to The Pall Mall Magazine. In April 1894 he began a long association with Punch. He subsequently went on to contribute to other periodicals, including The Ludgate Monthly, Black and White, The Sunday Magazine, The Art Journal, and, in the early 1900s, The Strand Magazine, The London Magazine, The Woman at Home, The Young Man, Printers’ Pie and The Odd Volume. He often signed his early work “A.S.B.”

As a book illustrator many of his books had a Scottish background or setting – for example collections of songs and ballads, and two books by the author Ian Maclaren. Whilst he was living in Glasgow, he was used by Scottish publishers such as William Blackwood and David Bryce & Son, and after moving to London he forged relationships with publishers such as Chatto & Windus, Hodder & Stoughton and W.& R. Chambers. Amongst his best-known books were A Lowden Sabbath Morn by Robert Louis Stevenson, published in 1898, and The Cotter’s Saturday Night by Robert Burns, published in 1905. Between 1907 and 1911 he illustrated four girls’ school stories by May Baldwin and three girls’ stories by L.T. Meade. He also illustrated five books written by his wife, who wrote as Mary Stuart Boyd.

In October 1898 Boyd and his wife set out on a round-the-world trip, via Australia and New Zealand, returning to England in May 1899. Their journey was subsequently told in Mary Stuart Boyd’s book, which had 170 illustrations by her husband, Our Stolen Summer, published by Blackwood in 1900.

Boyd’s son Stuart, who had been educated at University College School, Hampstead, enlisted in the Army Service Corps in August 1914. In March 1915 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 13th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters, and was promoted to  Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion in January 1916. He was subsequently attached to the 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in France in August 1916. He was wounded during the Battle of the Somme in September, and died of his injuries on 7 October, being buried in the Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension. He had been a promising artist, exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1909, 1913, 1914 and 1915.

Along with many other periodical illustrators, A.S. Boyd found his work in less demand after the war, with photography becoming the preferred medium for reportage. Boyd and his wife therefore decided to emigrate to New Zealand – one source suggests that Mary had relatives there. They left from Southampton on 20 November 1919, and settled in Auckland. Boyd quickly joined the Auckland Society of Art, serving as President between September 1926 and September 1928, and in 1923 was one of the founder members of the Auckland Sketch Club. From 1920 onwards he regularly gave lectures – on art, humour, authors he had known, and, one of his specialities, Robert Louis Stevenson. He had given up illustration as a career, but he continued painting.

He died on 21 August 1930 at his home at Rewhili Avenue, Takapuna, Auckland.

His wife had a long career as a journalist and author, often using the pseudonym J. Colne Dacre. Whilst living in London she wrote reviews, features and stories for periodicals such as The Woman at Home, The Lady’s World, The Morning Post, The Observer, Chambers’s Journal, The Graphic, and Black and White, and several novels. In New Zealand, she became the first President of the League of New Zealand Penwomen. She died in Auckland on 28 July 1937.


Books illustrated by A.S. Boyd
Leaves of Healing for the Bereaved ed. by Arthur Guthrie, Houlston & Sons, 1880
Martha Spreull: Being Chapters in the Life of a Single Wumman by Henry Johnson, Wilson & McCormick, 1884
Personal Recollections of Peter Stonnor, Esq. by Charles Blatherwick, Chapman & Hall, 1884 (with James Guthrie)
The Birthday Book of Solomon Grundy: His Wisdom and Humour by Will Robertson, Gowans & Gray, 1886
Sweet Briar: Songs and Sketches from “Quiz”, Houlston & Sons, 1886
Legal and Other Lyrics by George Outram, W. Blackwood & Sons, 1887 (with William Ralston)
Bute and Beauty: Tour To and Through the Island by W.M.M., John C. King, 1888
Some Old Scottish Songs, with Music, David Bryce & Son, 1889
Other Old Scotch Songs, with Music, David Bryce & Son, 1889
The Gailes of ’89 as Imprinted on the Mind of an Officer (anon), D. Robertson & Co., 1889
Childe Ronald’s Pilgrimage per S.S. “Columba”: A Souvenir of the Clyde, David Bryce & Son, 1890
Songs of Scotland: A Choice Selection ed. by William Moodie, F.A. Stokes (USA), 1890
Jeems Kaye: His Adventures and Opinions by Jeems Kaye, “The Bailie” Office, 1890 (with other artists)
One and Twenty Pages: Sketches, David Bryce & Son, 1891
Sweet Content by Mrs Molesworth,. Griffith & Farran, 1891
Told After Supper by Jerome K. Jerome. Leadenhall Press, 1891 (with other artists)
A Chronicle of Small Beer by John Reid, Isbister & Co., 1893
At the Rising of the Moon: Irish Stories and Studies by Frank James Mathew, McClure & Co., 1893 (with Fred Pegram)
Tavistock Tales by various authors, Isbister & Co., 1893 (with other artists)
Novel Notes by Jerome K. Jerome, Leadenhall Press, 1893 (with other artists)
Ghetto Tragedies by I. Zangwill, McClure & Co., 1894
John Ingerfield and Other Stories by Jerome K. Jerome, McClure & Co, 1894 (with other artists)
Greater Love and Other Stories by Alexander Gordon and other authors, Isbister & Co., 1894 (with other artists)
The Bell-Ringer of Angel’s by Bret Harte, Chatto & Windus, 1894 (with other artists)
A Protégée of Jack Hamlim’s by Bret Harte, Chatto & Windus, 1894 (with other artists)
Old English, Scotch, and Irish Songs, with Music: A Favourite Selection ed. by William Moodie, David Bryce & Son, 1895
Sketch Book of the North by George Eyre Todd, Morison Bros., 1896 (with other artists)
A Lowden Sabbath Morn by Robert Louis Stevenson, Chatto & Windus, 1898
The Days of Auld Lang Syne by Ian Maclaren, Hodder & Stoughton, 1898
Rabbi Saunderson by Ian Maclaren, Hodder & Stoughton, 1898
Gilean the Dreamer by Neil Munro, Isbister & Co., 1898
Mr Punch in Society: Being the Humours of Social Life, Amalgamated Press, 1898 (with other artists)
Mr Punch Afloat: The Humours of Boating and Sailing, Amalgamated Press, 1898
Mr Punch in the Highlands, Amalgamated Press, 1898 (with other artists)
Our Stolen Summer: The Record of a Roundabout Tour by Mary Stuart Boyd, W. Blackwood & Sons, 1900
Horace in Homespun by J. Logie Robertson, W. Blackwood & Sons, 1900 (re-issue)
A Versailles Christmas-tide by Mary Stuart Boyd, Chatto & Windus, 1901
The Shoes of Fortune: How They Brought to Manhood Love, Adventure and Content by Neil Munro, William Blackwood & Sons, 1901
When We Were Laddies at the Scüle by Kenneth Airsbil, A. Elliot, 1902
Wee Macgreegor by J.J. Bell, Scots Pictorial Publishing Co., 1903 (re-issue)
A Little Ray of Sunshine by various authors, “The Daily News” Office, 1903 (with other artists)
Jess & Co. by J.J. Bell, Hodder & Stoughton, 1904
Doctor Luke, of The Labrador by Norman Duncan, Hodder & Stoughton, 1904
Mr Lion of London, and Some Affairs of the Heart by J.J. Bell, Hodder & Stoughton, 1905
Glasgow Men and Women, Their Children and Some Strangers Within Their Gates: A Selection from the Sketches of Twym, Hodder & Stoughton, 1905
The Cotter’s Saturday Night by Robert Burns, Chatto & Windus, 1905 (re-issue)
The Lady of the Lake: A Poem in Six Cantos by Walter Scott, David Bryce & Son, 1905 (re-issue)
The Golden Astrolabe by W.A. Bryce and H. de Vere Stacpoole, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1906
The Children’s Hour by various authors, George Newnes Ltd., 1906 (with other artists)
Mr Punch’s Scottish Humour, Carmelite House, 1906 (with other artists)
The Follies of Fifi by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1907
Mysie: A Highland Lassie by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1907
Her Besetting Virtue by Mary Stuart Boyd, Hodder & Stoughton, 1908
Golden Square High School by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1908
Sweet Content by Mrs Molesworth, W. & R. Chambers, 1908 (re-issue)
Prince Madog, Discoverer of America: A Legendary Story by Joan Dane, Eliot Stock, 1909
The First Stone by Mary Stuart Boyd, Hodder & Stoughton, 1909
Betty Vivian: A Story of Haddo Court School by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1909
Muriel and Her Aunt Lu, or School and Art Life in Paris by May Baldwin, W. & R. Chambers, 1909
The Speshul: Being the Book of the Glasgow Press by various authors, Glasgow Journalists’ Institute, 1909 (with other artists)
Mr Punch’s Golf Stories: Told by his Merry Men, Educational Book Co., 1909 (with other artists)
Rosa Regina: A Story for Girls by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1910
The Doctor’s Children by L.T. Meade, W. & R. Chambers, 1911
The Mystery of the Castle by Mary Stuart Boyd, James Nisbet & Co., 1911
The Fortunate Isles: Life and Travel in Majorca, Minorca and Iviza by Mary Stuart Boyd, Methuen & Co., 1911
Princess Marie-José’s Children’s Book, Cassell & Co., 1916 (with other artists)
Hamewith (Verses) by Charles Murray, Constable, 1917 (re-issue)


  1. I came across your article by accident but how glad I am that I did! Alec Boyd was my great grandmother's brother and she married the James Cowan you mention. I am in possession of several works by ASB, his wife and their son. I would love to find out more about them and to know what your particular interest is in this talented trio.

  2. I passed on your comment to Robert, who wrote this piece, who says: "I don’t have a specific interest in Boyd per se – he’s just one of many “forgotten” illustrators whose lives and works I’ve been celebrating on this website. I don’t think I can add anything to what I’ve already written, but if you have any specific questions then please fire away and I’ll see what I can do to answer them."