Sunday, March 17, 2019

P. Walford

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

P. Walford was known to collectors of children’s as the illustrator of a handful of school and adventure stories, although this work appears to have been an occasional sideline from his main job as an art teacher. Unfortunately, his life is something of a mystery.

He was born on 31 January 1893 in Buckingham, and christened Percival John Walford, the last of five children born to William Henry Walford (born in Brackley, Northamptonshire, in 1854) a postmaster, and his wife Alice Keene, née Simmons (a farmer’s daughter born in Buckingham in 1856), who had married in 1878. The family moved from Buckingham at some point after Percival’s birth, initially to 69 High Streety, Walton le Soken Essex (1901 census), and then to Englefield Green, Surrey (1911 census). At that time, Percival was recorded as an art student, although it is not known where he was studying.

At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted in the 5th London Regiment as a Rifleman, reaching the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, although further details of his war service are not known. On his discharge, he moved to 26 Ellerslie Road, Hammersmith.

In 1922 he married Ida Katherine Burgess, born on 24 September 1901 and the daughter of Alfred Burgess, a Quantity Surveyor, and Florimel Grace, née Hutchinson. They moved to 2 St. Johns Park Mansions, Pemberton Gardens, Islington, and went on to have four children, beginning with Robert in 1923.

Walford’s brief career as an illustrator appears to have begun in 1924, when he contributed to The Detective Magazine, and illustrated two books for the Sheldon Press, The Secret of Marsh Haven by Alfred Judd and The Lone Shanty on the Hill by Nancy M. Hayes, and another Alfred Judd story, The Mystery of Meldon School, for Jarrold & Sons. He went on to illustrate at least four more books for the Sheldon Press, including two more boys’ school stories, and one book for S.W. Partridge & Co., between 1925 and 1927, and he also contributed to Modern Weekly in 1928.

Not all of the books Walford illustrated credited him as illustrator on the title page, and as his signature was very small, and often written on a dark background, it is likely that he illustrated many more books than the ten that have been identified.

By 1933 Walford was working as an Art Teacher (as evidenced by his mother’s will, which named him as an executor (along with his brother Ernest, working as an ironmonger). However, where he was working is not known. In the 1939 Register he was recorded as an “Art Master and Artist” at 83 Summerland Avenue, Minehead, Somerset, whilst his wife and children were living at Morecroft, Manor Road, Twickenham, to where they had moved in or prior to 1934. They remained there until at least 1957.

Walford is known to have illustrated two more children’s books in 1945 and 1948, but nothing after this has been identified. Walford died, at “Shappon,” Kings Somborne, Stockbridge,  Hampshire, on 22 March 1978, of chronic myocarditis and ischaemic heart disease. He did not leave a will. His wife died at Morecroft, Muss Lane, Kings Somborne, Hampshire, on 31 March 1984, leaving an estate valued at £79, 708.


Books illustrated by P. Walford
The Mystery of Meldon School by Alfred Judd, Jarrolds, 1924
The Secret of Marsh Haven: A Story of School Adventure by Alfred Judd, Sheldon Press, 1924
The Lone Shanty on the Hill by Nancy M. Hayes, Sheldon Press, 1924
The School Over the Way by Wallace Grey, Sheldon Press, 1925
Fellow Fags by Ethel Talbot, Sheldon Press, 1926
My Lady Venturesome: A Story of 1865 by Dorothea Moore, Sheldon Press, 1926
The Family Next Door by Ethel Talbot, Sheldon Press, 1927
Adventurers All by Dorothea Moore, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1927
Wings Over the Atlantic: A Tale of Coastal Command by Rowland Walker, A. & C. Black, 1945
Animal Tales from History by Kate Floyd Morton, Evans Brothers, 1948

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