Sunday, April 28, 2019

Frank Wright

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

Frank Wright was a minor illustrator whose career spanned 30 years, although he cannot be described as prolific.

(He should not be confused with other Frank Wrights who were artists, including the Frank Wright who was born in 1860 and who had a successful career as a painter and art teacher in New Zealand after emigrating in 1877.)

He was born in 1870 in Wolverhampton and christened Frank Tomlinson Wright, the seventh of eight children born to George Wright (born in 1832) and Caroline, née Partridge (born in 1829). At the time of the 1871 census, the family was living at Oak Road, Wolverhampton, with George described as a “Designer for Japan Work.” The family subsequently moved to London, where, in 1881, they were living at 33 Norfolk Road, Islington, with George described as a “Cabinet Artist.”

It is not known Frank Wright received his artistic training (unless it was at the Islington School of Art), but by 1891 he was working as an artist, living with his father and some of his siblings at 33 Norfolk Street – in fact, his father, brother Frederick and sister Clara were also working as artists. (His mother had died, and George had married Eliza Howes in 1890.)

Whilst he was working as an artist in the early 1890s, it is not known what he painted or illustrated until 1899, when he contributed to The Ludgate Monthly. Six years later, he began contributing to Punch, and he went on to sporadically contribute to a number of other periodicals up until 1929 – these included Cassell’s Magazine, The Red Magazine, The New Magazine, Cassell’s Magazine of Fiction, The Captain, The Strand Magazine, The Wide World Magazine and Chatterbox.

At the time of the 1901 census Wright was recorded as a visitor at the home of Mary Pailthorpe, at 6 Blythwood Road, Islington. In 1904, he was recorded as having a studio at 3 Terets Place, Islington, and between 1910 and 1915 he was recorded at 11 Grove Park Terrace, Chiswick, living as a boarder in the home of Henry Coldwell, a pianoforte maker, and his family.

He exhibited three times at the Royal Academy of Arts, in 1904, 1905 and 1911.

Wright’s career as a book illustrator appears to have begun in 1910, although again he only seems to have worked as such sporadically until the end of the First World War. In 1919, he began painting dustwrappers for Hodder & Stoughton and Methuen & Co., and paperback covers for George Newnes (including for an edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Valley of Fear in 1924). Between 1923 and 1928 he illustrated six boys’ school stories by Gunby Hadath, Richard Bird and Walter Rhoades.

Frank Wright died in Westminster Hospital on 16 December 1927, with his home address given as 93 Sarsfield Road, Balham, Surrey. Probate of his estate, a paltry £206, was granted to Ethel Coldwell, the wife of Henry Coldwell.

A handful of illustrations under his name appeared in subsequent years, in the children’s periodical Chatterbox (in 1929) and in the children’s annuals and story books The All-Story Wonder Book (Ward, Lock & Co., 1929) and The Blue Book of Stories for Girls and Enthralling Stories for Girls (Thomas Nelson, 1930). Rather mysteriously, he also supplied the frontispiece to The River School by A.W. Seymour, published by Blackie & Son in 1935, eight years after his death. (This may have appeared somewhere as a serial while he was still alive.)


Books Illustrated by Frank Wright
Three Xmas Gifts and Other Tales by A.D. Bright, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton & Co., 1901
Twenty-five Years in Seventeen Prisons: The Life Story of an Ex-Convict etc. by “No. 7”, F.E. Robinson & Co., 1903
A Perfect Pickle by various authors, John F. Shaw, 1909(?) (with other artists)
The Red Eric, or The Whaler’s Last Cruise by R.M. Ballantyne, George Newnes Ltd., 1910 (re-issue)
My Lord Duke by E.W. Hornung, Cassell & Co., 1910 (re-issue)
The Man with the Red Beard: A Story of Moscow and London by David Whitelaw, Greening & Co., 1911
The Secret of Chauville by David Whtelaw, Greening & Co., 1911
The Green Graves of Balgowrie by Jane Helen Findlater, Methuen & Co., 1914 (dustwrapper)
The Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Gift Book ed. by George Goodchild, Jarrolds, 1915 (with other artists)
Woolly of the Wilds: A Story of Pluck and Adventure in North-West Canada by Robert Leighton, Ward, Lock & Co., 1917
The Pillar of Fire by H.C. Bailey, Methuen & Co., 1918
Little Frida: A Tale of the Black Forest by anon, Thomas Nelsopn & Sons, 1918
The Golden Scorpion by Sax Rohmer, Methuen & Co., 1919 (dustwrapper)
Rainbow Nights and Other Stories by Andrew Soutar, Hodder & Stoughton, 1919 (dustwrapper)
Equality Night by Andrew Soutar, Hodder & Stoughton, 1919 (dustwrapper)
The Man on the Dover Road by David Whitelaw, Hodder & Stoughton, 1919 (dustwrapper)
Call Mr Fortune by H.C. Bailey, Methuen & Co., 1920 (dustwrapper)
The Coming of Cassidy by Clarence E. Mulford, Hodder & Stoughton, 1921 (dustwrapper)
The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne, Methuen & Co., 1922 (dustwrapper)
Rovering to Success by Lord Baden Powell, Herbert Jenkins, 1922 (dustwrapper)
The Jolly Party Book, Blackie & Son, 1922 (with other artists)
The New House at Oldborough: A Public School Story by Gunby Hadath, Hodder & Stoughton, 1923
Mr Fortune’s Practice by H.C. Bailey, Methuen & Co., 1923 (dustwrapper)
The Case of Miss Dunstable by Joseph Hocking, Hodder & Stoughton, 1923 (dustwrapper)
Sparrow in Search of Expulsion by Gunby Hadath, Hodder & Stoughton, 1924
Miriam in the Moorland by Frank King, Hodder & Stoughton, 1924 (dustwrapper)
The Lifeline by Effie Adelaide Rowlands, Hodder & Stoughton, 1924 (dustwrapper)
The Art of Michael Haslett by Florence Ethel Mills Young, Hodder & Stoughton, 1924 (dustwrapper)
The Passionate Quest by E. Phillips Oppenheim, Hodder & Stoughton, 1924 (dustwrapper)
The Annam Jewel by Patricia Wentworth, Andrew Melrose, 1924 (dustwrapper)
The Red Lacquer Case by Patricia Wentworth, Andrew Melrose, 1924 (dustwrapper)
As I Hear Tell by Grace I. Whitham, Hodder & Stoughton, 1924 (dustwrapper)
The Golden Centipede: A Weird and Thrilling Romance of West Africa by Louise Gerard, Methuen & Co., 1924 (re-issue) (dustwrapper)
Quinneys by H.A. Vachell, George Newnes Ltd., 1924 (paperback cover)
The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle, George Newnes Ltd, 1924 (paperback cover)
The Fattest Head in the Fifth by Gunby Hadath, Hodder & Stoughton, 1925
Living Dangerously by F.E. Penny, Hodder & Stoughton, 1925 (dustwrapper)
By Order of the Five by Herbert Adams, Methuen & Co., 1925 (dustwrapper)
Mr Fortune’s Trials by H.C. Bailey, Methuen & Co., 1925 (dustwrapper)
The Big Five at Ellerby and Other School Stories by Richard Bird, Blackie & Son, 1926
Jimmy Cranston’s Crony by Walter Rhoades, Blackie & Son, 1927
Thanks to Rugger and Other School Stories by Richard Bird, Blackie & Son, 1928
Louisa by Mrs Hobart-Hamden, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1928
The River School by A.W. Seymour, Blackie & Son, 1935 (with other artists)

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