Sunday, March 10, 2019

R H Brock

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

R.H. Brock is the “forgotten” Brock brother. Two of his siblings, C.E. Brock and H.M. Brock, were amongst the best-known and most talented illustrators of their era, both with a similar but instantly recognisable style. R.H. Brock was generally regarded as the least talented of the three, and he was certainly nowhere near as prolific. Yet he was a competent and versatile artist, equally at home painting in oils and watercolours as he was illustrating in black and white and colour. Unfortunately, he has been very much ignored by all the major commentators – he merits just a few lines in Simon Houfe’s The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800-1914, and he hardly features at all in C.M. Skelly’s biography of the Brock family, The Brocks: A Family of Cambridge Artists and Illustrators.

The brothers’ father was Edmund Brock, born in Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, in 1840. His father, Jeremiah, a painter, took the family to Islington, London, where, in his late teens, Edmund became a bookmaker. However, by the mid-1860s he was a member of the Early English Text Society, and he was publishing his own texts – for example translations from the medieval English of some of Chaucer’s works, and a translation of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. He subsequently spent 40 years working for the Cambridge University Press as a reader specializing in medieval and oriental languages. He married Mary Ann Louise Pegram (born in London in 1836) at Regent’s Park Chapel, Marylebone, on 23 February 1867, moving to Leighton Road, Kentish Town, where their first child, Alice Emma, was born in 1868. They then moved to Hampden Road, Holloway, where C.E. Brock, christened Charles Edmund Brock, was born on 5 February 1870. They then moved to Cornwall Terrace, Friern Barnet, where R.H. (Richard Henry) was born on 21 July 1871, before moving to Cambridge, firstly to Coronation Street, where a third son was born, and then to 4 Perowne Street, where a further three children, including H.M. (Henry Matthew), were born.

Richard, along with his brothers, was educated at St. Barnabas Church of England School and then at the Higher Grade School for Boys in Paradise Street, Cambridge. At the time of the 1891 census he was living with his parents and siblings at 3 Barrie Villas, Abbey Road, and described as a “Pupil Teacher in Art School.” This was the Cambridge School of Art, where he had been studying since 1888. He remained there until at least 1895 – he was a regular prize-winner, and for some years was studying alongside his two brothers.

His career as an illustrator seems to have begun in 1897, when he contributed to The Infants’ Magazine and The Family Friend, both published by S.W. Partridge & Co. However, this appears to have been a false start, as he spent the following 20 years or so concentrating on painting. He specialised in rural scenes, in particular farming, horses, hunting and other country pursuits. He exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1901, 1903, 1906, 1911, 1912 and 1913, and also occasionally elsewhere, such as Derby in 1905 and Bradford in 1907. He was also a keen musician, playing the violin and cello with the Cambridge Orchestral Society.

In 1916 he began contributing to The Tatler and Punch (he had four drawings published in Punch  in 1916 and 1917), and he later contributed to Chums, Printer’s Pie, Outward Bound, The Boy’s Own Paper, The Boys Magazine, Chatterbox, The Wide World Magazine, The Happy Mag, The Detective Magazine, The Red Magazine, The Scout and The Golden Mag. However, he was not a regular contributor to any of these periodicals, although he did contribute sporadically to The Boy’s Own Paper between 1921 and 1932. Between 1918 and 1920 he also illustrated stories published in The Sheffield Weekly Telegraph.

From the mid-1890s onwards he lived with his parents at Arundine House, where he shared a studio with his brothers. In the 1901 census, he was described simply as a painter, whereas his brothers were both recorded as “Artist Painter & Book Illustrator.”

On 25 August 1917, at the Independent Chapel, Hanworth Road, Hounslow, he married Mary Cooke, a schoolmistress, born on 27 November 1882, the daughter of Charles Henry Cooke, a jeweller. Richard continued living in the family home in Madingley Road until late 1938.

While his brothers Charles and Henry had begun illustrating books in the 1890s, Richard appears to have only begun to do this in 1920, when he illustrated Three Girls on a Ranch, written by Bessie Marchant and published by Blackie & Sons. He went on to illustrate a further 25 or so books for Blackie, and he also worked occasionally for other publishers such as Thomas Nelson & Sons, the Oxford University Press, the Sheldon Press, the Religious Tract Society (his books appeared under the imprint of The “Boy’s Own Paper” Office) and Eyre & Spottiswoode. Like his brothers, he was commissioned to illustrate new editions of “classic” novels, such as The Three Musketeers, Lorna Doone, The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Cloister and the Hearth, and Mrs Henry Wood’s The Channings.

Many of the books he illustrated were girls’ stories, by authors such as Margaret Batchelor, Ethel Talbot, E.E. Cowper, Alice Massie, Dorita Fairlie Bruce, Katherine Oldmeadow, Nancy M. Hayes, Brenda Girvin, Violet Methley and Jessie Leckie Herbertson. Amongst the boys’ writers whose books he illustrated were Alfred Judd, Herbert Strang, R.A.H. Goodyear, Stanton Hope and George Manville Fenn.

In total, more than 80 books containing his illustrations have been recorded, although there are almost certainly several more. This does not include the numerous children’s annuals and similar large-format books to which he contributed  – these included The Big Book of School Stories for Boys , The Boys’ Book of School Stories, Blackie’s Boys’ Annual, Blackie’s Children’s Annual, Schoolboy Stories Splendid Stories for Girls, The Girls’ Budget, The Boys’ Budget, The Big Budget for Boys, The Grand Adventure Book for Boys, The Golden Budget for Girls, The Golden Budget for Boys, The Blue Line School Stories for Girls, Delightful Stories for Girls, The Jolly Book, Nelson’s Jolly Book for Boys, Nelson’s Budget for Girls, Storyland for Girls, The Empire Annual for Girls, Hulton’s Girls’ Stories, Jolly Days for Girls, The Schoolgirls’ Bumper Book and A Story Book for Me.

He was also responsible for the covers for many of George Newnes’s Black Bess Library and Dick Turpin Library between 1921 and 1930, along with C.P. Shilton.

R.H. Brock’s periodical work appears to have come to an end in 1932, although he continued illustrating books until around 1940. However, he appears to have more or less abandoned his career as an artist prior to this – by 1939 he and his wife were running a boarding house at 14 Priory Avenue, Hastings. They appear to have stopped advertising the boarding house after June 1940, and they subsequently moved to 32 Bulstrode Road, Hounslow.

Richard Henry Brock died, of heart disease, at Bulstrode Road on 11 June 1943, apparently without leaving a will.  It is not known when his wife died.


Books illustrated by R.H. Brock:
Three Girls on a Ranch by Bessie Marchant, Blackie & Son, 1920
Uncle Tom’s Scrape by Theodora Wilson Wilson, Blackie & Son, 1922
A Little Rhodesian by Margaret Batchelor, Oxford University Press, 1922
Camp-fire Stories by Herbert Strang, Oxford University Press, 1922 (with C.E. Brock)
Neighbours at School by Ethel Talbot, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1923
The Mystery Term by E.E. Cowper, Blackie & Son, 1923
The Secret of Canute’s Island by G. Godfray Sellick, “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1923
The Bringing Up of Mary Ann by Alice Massie, Oxford University Press, 1923
A Cherry Tree by Amy Le Feuvre, Oxford University Press, 1923 (re-issue)
The Scouring of the White Horse by Thomas Hughes, Blackie & Son, 1925 (re-issue)
The Holiday Story Book, Blackie & Son, 1923 (with other artists)
One Summer Holiday by Natalie Joan, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1924
Sally at School by Ethel Talbot, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1924
Gwenda’s Friend from Home by Margaret Batchelor, Oxford University Press, 1924
Don’s Treasure Trove by Alice Massie, Oxford University Press, 1924
The Children of Sunshine Mine: A Story of Rhodesia by Margaret Batchelor, Oxford University Press, 1924 (with C.E. Brock)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, abridged by C.H. Irwin, ”Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1924
The Boarding School Girl by Dorita Fairlie Bruce, Oxford University Press, 1925
By Honour Bound: A School Story for Girls by Bessie Marchant, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1925
The Stranger in the Train and other stories by Ethel Talbot, Sheldon Press, 1925
The Secret Brotherhood by Marjorie C. Bernard, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1925
Castle Dune by Katherine L. Oldmeadow, Blackie & Son, 1925
Tracked on the Trail by Nancy M. Hayes, Sheldon Press, 1925
Red Roof Farm by Joan Leslie, Oxford University Press, 1925
Witch of the Wilds by E.E. Cowper, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1925
The Young Folk’s Treasure Chest, “Daily Express” Publications, 1925 (with other artists)
Gytha’s Message: A Tale of Saxon England by Emma Leslie, Blackie & Son, 1925 (re-issue)
The Rood and the Raven by Gertrude Hollis, “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1926
June the Girl Guide by Brenda Girvin, Oxford University Press, 1926
Bringing Back the Frasers and other stories by Ethel Talbot, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1926 (with other artists)
Out and About by various authors, Blackie & Son, 1926 (with other artists)
The Riddle of Randley School by Alfred Judd, Blackie & Son, 1927
Bab’s Two Cousins, or The Organist’s Baby by Kathleen Knox, Blackie & Son, 1927
An Island for Two: A School Story by L.F. Ramsay, Sheldon Press, 1927
Kitty’s Kitten by Herbert Strang, Oxford University Press, 1927
Tom Leaves School by Herbert Strang, Oxford University Press, 1927
Cap’n Benny by Henry Lawrence Phillips, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1927
The Camp Across the Road by H.B. Davidson, Sheldon Press, 1927
The White Standard by Eliza F. Pollard, Blackie & Son, 1927 (re-issue)
Peterina on the Rescue Trail by E.E. Cowper, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1928
The Guide Adventurers by Margaret Middleton, Blackie & Son, 1929
The New Centre Forward by Ethel Talbot, Collins, 1929
Another Pair of Shoes by Jessie Leckie Herbertson, Sheldon Press, 1929
The Channings by Mrs Henry Wood, Oxford University Press, 1929 (re-issue)
The Battlefield Treasure by F. Bayford Harrison, Blackie & Son, 1929 (re-issue)
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Blackie & Son, 1930 (re-issue)
Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas, Blackie & Son, 1930 (re-issue)
Tales of Beasts and Birds by various authors, Gresham Publishing Co., 1930 (with other artists)
Playing the Game! A Public School Story by Kent Carr, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1931 (re-issue)
The Windmill Guides by Violet Mary Methley, Blackie & Son, 1931
The Makeeshift Patrol: A Story of Girl Guides by H.B. Davidson, S.P.C.K., 1932
The Oakhill Guide Company by Felicity Keith, Blackie & Son, 1933
The Girls of Mystery Gorge by E.E. Cowper, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1933
The Holiday Story Book, Blackie & Son, 1933 (with C.E. & H.M. Brock)
Warne’s Book of Nursery Tales, Frederick Warne & Co., 1933 (with other artists)
Good Yarns for Boys by various authors, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1933 (with other artists)
Mystery Camp by Violet Methley, Blackie & Son, 1934
The City of Death: A Story of Mexico by Oliver Barton, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1934
The Canadian Family Robinson: A Modern Tale of the Shipwreck and the Subsequent Adventures of a Family by Grace E.P. Leonard, “Boy’s Own Paper” Office, 1935
Our Kiddies’ Tales by various authors, William Walker & Sons, 1935 (with other artists)
Pulling Templestone Together by R.A.H. Goodyear, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1936
The Mystery of Mingo by Ethel Talbot, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1936
Two Boys in Australia by Roger Burns, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1936
How Judy Passed Her Tests by H.B. Davidson, Sheldon Press, 1936
The Marigolds Make Good by Catherine Christian, Blackie & Son, 1937
Robber Castle by Dinah Pares, George G. Harrap & Co., 1937
Orinoco Trail by Stanton Hope, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1937
Dog-Face by John Easton, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1937
Malachi’s Cove by Anthony Trollope, re-told by Margaret E. Johnson, Oliver & Boyd, 1937
More Stories of Robin Hood by Albert Sydney Hornby, George G. Harrap & Co., 1938
Dick o’ the Fens by George Manville Fenn, Blackie & Son, 1940 (re-issue)
For the Little Ones by various authors, Blackie & Son, 1941 (with other artists)

Dates not known:
Everyday Stories by various authors, Gresham Publishing Co., (with H.M. Brock & H.R. Miller)   
Loran Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by R.D. Blackmore, Blackie & Son,
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, Thomas Nelson & Sons,
The Children of the New Forest
The Cloister and the Hearth by Charles Reade, Blackie & Son,
Two’s Company by Anne Gannell, Blackie & Son, (with other artists)
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Blackie & Son, (re-issue)
Put to the Proof by Mrs Henry Clarke, Blackie & Son, (re-issue) (with W. Dodds)

No comments:

Post a Comment


Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books