by John Adcock“…grandma used to read the stories aloud to him, so he could visualize the scenes in his mind’s eye while he hastily scribbled the postcard sketches…
ROBERT PROWSE Jr. (1858-1934?), contemporary of Paul Hardy, was one of the most prolific of all illustrator’s of British boy’s fiction at the turn of the century. Between the years 1895 and 1932 his startling paintings and drawings were reproduced in full color on the covers of Aldine’s Robin Hood, Claud Duval, Black Bess, Jack Sheppard, Spring-Heeled Jack and Buffalo Bill libraries.
ALDINE. The majority of his work was done for the Aldine Publishing Company but he also contributed to “Best for Boys” Publishing Co. where he illustrated several romances by E. Harcourt Burrage, author of the “celebrated Ching-Ching.” Charles Wright, in Speaking of Aldines, in the Christmas 1957 The Collectors’ Digest Annual, wrote that he “did illustrate a few of the early “Plucks” for the Amalgamated Press.”
ERICA DUNHAM, granddaughter of Robert Prowse Jr., sent me several scanned copies selected from 26 of his penciled preparatory sketches (postcard-sized, approx. 12 cm x 7 cm), plus a photo and self-portrait. In her words:
My mother told me that granddad and grandma (Josephine) were a devoted couple (possibly attested to by the fact they had 17 children over 30 years!) and grandma used to read the stories aloud to him, so he could visualize the scenes in his mind’s eye while he hastily scribbled the postcard sketches preparatory to completing the final illustrations. It is interesting to note that they both lived until well in their 70s when the average life expectancy at the time was barely 50 years old.
I believe my grandfather was a very good artist, doing large paintings and theatre backdrops, but he mainly illustrated books, magazines, poetry etc. to provide a steady income.
 Photograph of Robert Prowse Jr. and his wife Josephine with a baby (presumably one of the grandchildren).
 Self-portrait done for his granddaughter Peggy (Margaret, the daughter of his son Charles; date unknown).
 Photograph of Robert Prowse Jr. and his granddaughter Dorothia, May 1931.
In an earlier post – HERE – I published a photograph of Robert Prowse Jr., one taken in May 1931. It was sent to me by his great grandson, Lawrence Brennan, and is reposted on this page as well.
A Tale of Two Roberts, a biography by Steve Holland is HERE.
You can browse The Island School HERE.
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