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Sunday, May 12, 2019

G W Goss

Robert J. Kirkpatrick

G.W. Goss had two careers  –  firstly, as an illustrator, mainly of children’s books, in the UK between 1921 and 1946, and secondly as a commercial artist and portrait painter in Canada in the 1950s and '60s. He was also known for his work providing covers for a number of Tarzan books.

He was born on 10 January 1901 and baptized, as Geoffrey Walter Goss, at the church of St. Mary le Park, Battersea, on 17 March 1901, His father, Walter Goss (born in Chelsea in 1832, the son of Sir John Goss, – the organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the composer of several well-known hymns – died in Wandsworth in 1926) was a former music and singing teacher who had become a pianist – he taught the piano as well as tuning and repairing them. In 1860 he had married Arabella Parkin, with whom he had had four children between 1861 and 1873. Arabella died in 1895, and three years later Walter married Christine Elizabeth Mary Saunders (born in Stepney in 1871, the daughter of Daniel Saunders, a civil servant, died in Southall, Middlesex in 1956), with whom he had a further four children: Juliet Christine (born in Marylebone, London, in 1899), Geoffrey Walter, Barbara Miriam (born in Wandsworth in 1904) and another daughter Cecilia (born in Wandsworth in 1911).

Walter had a rather peripatetic lifestyle, travelling away from London at regular intervals. In 1885 and 1886, whilst living at 91 Islip Street, Kentish Town, he was advertising his visits to St. Albans for the purpose of tuning pianos; in 1890, he was advertising visits to the south coast to tune and repair pianos, and in the 1891 census he was recorded living at Beaconsfield Villas, Steyning, Sussex. (His daughter from his first marriage, Mina, was working as an artist, but nothing is known about her.) By the time of Geoffrey Walter’s birth, Walter had moved back to London, living at 26 Albert Mansions, Albert Bridge Road, Battersea. Ten years later, he had retired, and was living at 58A Dornton Road, Balham. His elder daughter Juliet was a pupil at the Royal Masonic School for Girls in Wandsworth, although Geoffrey Walter appears not have been recorded in that year’s census. However, it is known that at some point he was a pupil at the City of London Freemen’s School in Ferndale Road, Lambeth, where he won several prizes for art.

He left at the age of 16, and began working in the art department of a local factory, while at the same time undertaking evening classes at several London art colleges. In an unpublished autobiography he wrote that he became a full-time freelance artist after answering an advertisement in a local newspaper (probably from James Nisbet & Co.) and was commissioned to produce “six halftone illustrations and one full-colour book jacket.” This would appear to have been for one of two books published by Nisbet in 1921, both girls’ school stories by Dorothea Moore and Christine Chaundler, and he continued to work with Nisbet for the following six years.

He then went on to illustrate children’s books for a variety of other publishers, in particular the Sheldon Press in the early 1930s, when he was working out of a studio at 117 Charlotte Street, Camden. He also contributed to a variety of children’s annuals, including Blackie’s Children’s Annual, Blackie’s Little Ones’ Annual, Nelson’s Jolly Book for Boys, Every Girl’s Story Book (Dean & Sons), Best Book for Girls (Dean & Sons) and The Bairn’s Budget (Blackie & Son).

He also sporadically contributed to a small number of periodicals, including The Captain, Little Folks, Cassell’s Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and, most notably, The Wide World Magazine between 1927 and 1942).

He produced his first Tarzan dustwrapper in 1921 (for the first UK edition of Tarzan the Terrible, published by Methuen & Co.), and later, in the 1930s, he produced three more for Methuen’s reprints, along with a non-Tarzan story by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Girl from Hollywood. He also produced dustwrappers for publishers such as Hutchinson & Co. and Grayson & Grayson n the early 1930s.

He seems to have spent his 20s and 30s living with his parents and, after his father’s death, with his mother. His addresses included 54A Dornton Road, Wandsworth (1923), 2 Veronica Road, Balham (1928), 7 Holders Hill Drive, Barnet (1934). In 1936, he was recorded as having a studio at 11 Great Turnstile, Holborn. In 1938 he married the 18 year-old Patricia Tyson (who had trained as a watercolourist and fashion illustrator) in Hampstead – they moved to 5 Holland Park Mews, Kensington. They went on to have three children: Anna (born in Finsbury, north London, in 1939, died 1942), John Nicholas (born in St. Albans in 1942) and Andrew Charles (born in Hammersmith in 1944). At the time of the 1939 Register, they were living at Cherry Tree Cottage, Lee Common, Amersham, Berkshire.

During the War the family lived in Harpenden, with Geoffrey working at the Vauxhall factory in Luton on designs for the Churchill tanks that were manufactured there. In 1946 they moved to 14 Copthall Gardens, Barnet. It was around this time that he wrote, and illustrated with cartoons, No Kidding, a humorous look at family life sub-titled "Being a Solemn Warning to all Potential Parents, with a short Appendix containing suggestions on how to make the Best of it if the Worst happens", which was published by Hammond, Hammond & Co. in 1947.

In 1944, Goss painted a portrait of Victor Roy Smith, a prominent Canadian actuary and President of the Canadian Art Club, whilst he was on a trip to England. (Unfortunately, Smith died in England shortly after the painting was finished.) This may have prompted Goss to visit Canada – in August 1947 he and his family left for New York en route to Canada, where they settled on Centre Island, a small island off Toronto. In 1951, they moved to 206 Dundas Street, Oakville, Ontario (55 km south-west of Toronto), and subsequently to 328 Trafalgar Road, Oakville. Goss and his wife had one more child, Rosalind Elizabeth, in 1953.

For many years Goss worked as a commercial artist at Brigden’s Ltd., a graphic arts company in Toronto, before setting up his own studio in the late 1950s, and establishing a reputation as a portrait painter. He subsequently moved to Toronto, to 95 Maitland Street, although he remained a member of the Oakville Art Society.

As a commercial artist, Goss (who usually used the name Geoffrey Goss) produced a series of posters for the Canadian Government Travel Bureau, advertising Canada as a holiday destination. He also illustrated a variety of books, including several religious works, novels, and reading books for young children. Some of his books were illustrated using the technique of scratchboard (or scraperboard). He was also a regular contributor to The War Cry, the Canadian Salvation Army magazine, in the early-mid 1960s. All this work emphasized Goss’s versatility as an artist – he was equally at home illustrating school and adventure stories, picture books for young children, comic postcards, and dustwrappers for adult novels.

Goss died in Toronto in 1985. As for his wife, she worked as an art teacher at the National Ballet School in Toronto between 1965 and 1990, after which she trained as a sculptor in Italy. She was still working and exhibiting in Toronto at the age of 98. Two of the family’s children became artists: Rosalind is a painter, who also taught at the National Ballet School; and Andrew is a jewellery designer. John, who died in 1986, was an associate conductor of the National Ballet Orchestra in Toronto.

(With thanks to Andrew Goss)


No Kidding, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1947

Books illustrated by G.W. Goss
The New Prefect by Dorothea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1921
The Fourth Form Detectives by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co., 1921
Tarzan the Terrible by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Methuen & Co., 1921 (dustwrapper)
A Fourth Form Rebel by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co., 1922
Guide Gilly, Adventurer by Dorothea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1922
Jan of the Fourth by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co., 1923
The Last Lap: A School Story by Walter Rhoades, Oxford University Press, 1923
The Only Day Girl by Dorothea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1923
Judy the Tramp by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co., 1924
Winning Her Colours by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co, 1924
A Young Pretender by Dorothea Moore, Nisbet & Co., 1924
The Girl who Played the Game by May Wynne, Ward, Lock & Co., 1924
The Girl from Hollywood by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Metheun & Co., 1924 (re-issue) (dustwrapper)
Winnie O'Wynn and the Dark Horses by Bertram Atkey, Hutchinson & Co., 1925
The Whip Hand: A School Story by Walter Rhoades, Blackie & Son, 1925
‘Z’ House by Dorothea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1925
Bunty of the Blackbirds by Christine Chaundler, James Nisbet & Co., 1925
Dr. Jolliffe's Boys: A Tale of Weston School by Lewis Hough, Blackie & Son, 1925 (re-issue)
The Girl Over the Wall by May Wynne, Religious Tract Society, 1926
Count Blitski’s Daughter by Leland Buxton, Christophers, 1926 (dustwrapper)
The Honour of A Guide by E.M. Channon, James Nisbet & Co., 1926
Brenda of Beech House by Dorthea Moore, James Nisbet & Co., 1927
Avril’s Ambition by Kathleen M. Willcox, James Nisbet & Co., 1927
Jackson’s Ju-Ju by Arthe E. Southon, Sheldon Press, 1927 (dustwrapper)
The Orator by Edgar Wallace, Hutchinson & Co., 1927 (dustwrapper)
Mystery Island by Charles Gilson, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1928
The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Methuen & Co., 1928 (dustwrapper)
The Queen of the Extinct Volcano by Charles Dudley Lampen, Sheldon Press, 1929 (re-issue)
The Boys of the "Puffin": A Sea Scout Yarn by Percy F. Westerman, S.W. Partridge & Co., 1935
Over the Hills and Far Away by May Wynne. Children's Companion Office, 1925
Dare-All Jack and the Cousins by May Wynne. Religious Tract Society, 1925
The Liberators by K. MacLure, S.P.C.K., 1930
With Mahdi and Khalifa by Alice F. Jackson, Sheldon Press, 1930
The Jing-a-Ring Story Book, Blackie & Son, 1930 (with other artists)
My Book of Plays by various authors, Blackie & Son, 1931 (with Caroline Hall)
Just What I Like! A Book of Sories, Pictures and Poems, Blackie & Son, 1951 (with other artists)
The Enemy in the Midst by K. Maclure, Sheldon Press, 1932
Una Wins Through by Irene Mossop, Frederick Warne & Co., 1932
The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Methuen & Co., 1932 (dustwrapper) (re-issue)
The Sun Will Shine by May Edginton, Odhams Press, 1933 (dustwrapper)
Midbourne School by Edith Miles, Sheldon Press, 1933
Hilary Leads the Way by Irene Mossop, Frederick Warne & Co., 1933
The Full-of-Fun Picture Book, Ward, Lock & Co., 1933 (with other artists)
Tales of a Cub Pack by Margaret Rhodes, Sheldon Press, 1934
At the Window by Stanley Lloyd, Blackie & Son, 1934 (with other artists)
The Boys’ and Girls’ Wonder Book edited by Harry Golding, Ward, Lock & Co., 1934 (with other artists)
Up in the Air. Blackie & Son, 1935
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Methuen & Co., 1935 (dustwrapper) (re-issue)
The Devil of Saxon Wall by Gladys Mitchell, Grayson, 1935 (dustwrapper)
What Katy Did at School by Susan Coolidge, W. Foulsham & Co., 1935 (dustwrapper)
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes,. W.Foulsham & Co., 1935 (re-issue)
All My Own, Blackie & Son, 1936 (with other artists)
The Son of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Methuen & Co., 1936 (dustwrapper) (re-issue)
Peter Simple retold and edited by Constance M. Martin, Philip & Tacey Ltd., 1940
The Adventures of Peter and Tim by T. Barton Brown, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1943
Peter and Tim on the Trail by T. Barton Brown, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1945
Murder in Havana by George Harmon Coxe, Hammond & Co., 1945 (dustwrapper)
The Magic Bicycle by F. R. Evison, Hammond, Hammond & Co., 1946
The Far and Near Story Book, Juvenile Productions, (1940s)
Cats and Kittens, Blackie Son, (1940s)
Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes, W. Foulsham & Co., 1948 (dustwrapper)
Fishing in a Cinch: With the Inquiring Angler in Ontario and Quebec by David Reddick, McClelland & Stewart, 1950
The Circus Book, Juvenile Productions, 1951(?) (with other artists)
Farmyard Friends: Magic Hidden Colour Painting Book, Juvenile Productions, 1951(?)
Why Am I Here? The Anglican Church of Canada, Totonto, 1951(?)
Sir Christopher Cat by Thomas Payten Gunton, Grant Educational Co., 1952
Lexy O'Connor by Audrey McKim, McClelland & Stewart, 1953
The Barley and the Stream: The Molson Story by Merrill Denison, McClelland & Stewart, 1955
Outdoor Rambles by Stuart L. Thompson, Longmans, Green & Co., 1956
A Carp Water (Wood Pool) and How to Fish It by "B.B.", Putnam, 1958 (re-issue)
Anything Could Happen by Phyllis Brett Young, Longmans, Green & Co., 1961
In the Light of the Cross by Bishop R.S. Dean, The Anglican Church of Canada, 1961
Ma-Kee. The Life and Death of a Muskellunge by David Reddick, McClelland & Stewart, 1962
God is Always With Us by Audrey McKim, United Church Publishing House, Totonto, 1964
On My Way by Harold M. Covell, Ryerson Press, 1966 (with other artists)
See Me Go by Harold M. Covell, Ryerson Press, 1966 (with other artists)
Adventure in Antigua by Ross Darling, The Anglican Church of Canada, Toronto, 1967
The Architecture of Rural Society by Samuel Henry Prince, The Anglican Church of Canada, 1960s

Dates not known:
For Little Folk: Pictures and Verse, Blackie & Son, (?) (with other artists)
Cats and Dogs for Little Folks, Blackie & Son (?) (with other artists)

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