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Anne Anderson, the illustrator: her personal tale, books, illustrations and fairy paintings

Mistress Mary

Mistress Mary

Anne Anderson, the illustrator of children's books

Today Anne Anderson is not among most known illustrators of children's books, but with over one hundred books she certainly had her share of success in book market.

Anne Anderson's illustrations are actually very popular at collectors and I dare to predict her work will become even more in demand in the future.

Unfortunately there is not much known about Anne Anderson's life, so we'll not only try to present her art work, but try to collect as much as possible details from her personal life. When we'll find more data, we'll add it right here and hopefully one day this lens will become most comprehensive and reliable free resource about Anne Anderson and her illustrations on the web.

(All images are Public Doman, for more info read the list of resources at the end of the article.)

Vignette from Anderson's Old English Nursery Rhymes

Vignette from Anderson's Old English Nursery Rhymes

Anne Anderson's childhood and youth

It looks like Anderson's childhood is relatively well documented. Anne was born in in Scotland in 1874 as oldest daughter of Grace and James, who had a business in Argentina.

Anne Anderson spent most of her childhood and youth in Argentina and returned to Great Britain as a teenager. We don't know why she came to England, but documents show two important facts from her life in the first decade of 20 th century (so called Edwardian era).

She illustrated her first book and met her future husband Alan Wright.

Old English Nursery Rhymes - vignette by Anne Anderson

Old English Nursery Rhymes - vignette by Anne Anderson

Who was Alan Wright?

Alan Wright was a British painter born in 1864. He was very talented in landscaping and figure painting and around 1890 exhibited in several prestigious places as Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Academy and New English Art Club.

He also illustrated several books and here things started to get complicated. In 1898 he made illustrations for How I was Buried Alive, story written by Frederick William Rolfe, more known by his pseudonym Baron Corvo.

Frederick Rolfe was a controversial person, in many aspects similar to his contemporary Oscar Wilde (both were Catholic converts, both openly gay in times when this was criminal offense, both died broke and abroad ...), but what is more important, Rolfe's scandalous work How I was Buried Alive ruined the reputation of Alan Wright.

The Wallypug in London, 1898 (by Alan Wright)

The Wallypug in London, 1898 (by Alan Wright)


After 1898 Wright's career went downhill.

You can see how looked one of illustrations made by Alan Wright in time when his career was on the rise (above) and on the right you can see how looked the typical illustration job he could get after the scandal with Baron Corvo's story.

This illustration of a table with some dishes is one of many pretty unimportant details from the book titled Palm Tree Island published in 1910, just before he married Anne Anderson.

When he married Anne Anderson in June 1912, things changed. They married in Burghfield Common Parish Church in Berkshire and eventually settled there. They started to collaborate at numerous books soon after.

This wasn't too hard because their style was pretty similar.

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Anne Anderson's first books were not aiming at youngest kids. The first with illustrations above was titled Aucassin and Nicolette, a parody on romances, originaly dated from 12 th century, translated by Harold Child and published in 1911 by Adam and Charles Black (still in business under name of A & C Black as part of Bloomsbury Publishing).

Her second book book was Stories from Chaucer (rewritten by Emily Underdown and published by Thomas Nelson and Sons in 1913). Anne Anderson was not even credited as illustrator but her signature is visible on all illustrations presented in the gallery below.

Team work

Anderson and Wright collaborated on numerous illustrating projects. He was more experienced but because of his ill reputation hardly got any commission, so he helped at her projects at his best effort. They said he had drawn animals and she did the res.

Theire best known mutual works are The Busy Bunny Book, The Naughty Neddy Book,

Two Bold Sportsmen, The Podgy-Puppy and several others, all published by Thomas Nelson and Sons, which are today all considered as rarities and collectibles, first editions in good shape sometimes skyrocketing up to a thousand dollars!

To learn the truth about Rapunzel just press here!

To learn the truth about Rapunzel just press here!

And of course there is more: from The Frog Prince to The Snow White ...

To find the truth about the Sleeping Beauty press here!

To find the truth about the Sleeping Beauty press here!

Anne Anderson in top demand

We don't know how much Alan Wright contributed to her success, but it is believed his contribution was smaller and smaller from year after year util he died in 1927. There is not known when Anne Anderson died although most sites on web claim 1930 as the year of her death.

This year is very possibly wrong, because her books with previously unpublished illustrations continued to be published until 1938. Of course book can be published after the artistic work was done but as we found about Anne Anderson's life she worked hard to provide everyday money and she certainly could not afford to work on projects where she could not expect money for years.

So probably the right date of her death is 193? and somebody somewhere wrote exactly that. Than somebody wrongly submitted it to Wikipedia and everybody else copied the number from there.

We do believe she died before 1941 for the same reasons explained above, so her work is considered Public Domain on terms author's life + 70 years.

The illustration on the right is from Briar Rose, more known as Sleeping Beauty, one of most popular collections illustrated by Anne Anderson. It is titled Old, Old Fairy Tales and it was published in USA in 1935, but before that Nelson and sons published it in Europe. It is very interesting collection with diverse selection of fairy tales, from Goldilocks and Three Bears and The Beauty and the Beast to Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin.

Anne Anderson was not only an illustrator!

Her drawings decorate more than one hundred books, mostly for children and she regularly contributed to several Annuals as Wonder, Playbox, Blackie, Cassell and Mrs. Strang.

Anderson’s illustrations were used on Royal Doulton China, she designed greeting cards and postcards. In addition to all that she was also etching. Do you want to see how classic etching (with acid) is done?

What is etching?

Anne Anderson's work, as work of her contemporaries Charles Robinson, Mabel Lucie Attwell and Jessie Marion King is part of the era when art stopped being exclusive right of certain elitistic circles and finally came into every house, every home because the creative people started to believe this is the way it should be.

Sometimes the results are not up to our today taste, like in Anderson's Wonder Book below. No publisher would not publish the Story of Sisi Nouman from Arabian Nights with Charles Dickens' The Chimes in the same volume but in the first half of 20 th century thus medleys were something usual.

The line between 'classic art' and 'craft' was erased and nothing can reverse that.

If we are lucky we can still enjoy the consequences of this movement!

My main resources

Well, web is a huge place, so I will provide only three places where I got most of the material for this lens. The last of resources is in Slovene language.

Your turn

Little Jack Horner from Old English Nursery Songs

Little Jack Horner from Old English Nursery Songs

Anne Anderson is considered as a driving force and major contributor in collaboration with her husband Alan Wright.

Anne Anderson, black and white illustration from Old English Nursery Rhymes

Anne Anderson, black and white illustration from Old English Nursery Rhymes

Did you notice another signature sign of illustrations by Anne Anderson? - Let me help you: pear shaped faces of children!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on August 28, 2019:

Thanks, Marie Flint, for your opinion.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on August 04, 2019:

Personally, I would want to acknowledge the works of my husband. So what if his name had been black listed before? The past is past. People, in general, are more apt to remember an illustration than an illustrator's name. Of course, there are some art buffs and critics out there.

I say keep all dealings open and truthful and certainly give credit where credit is due!

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on April 15, 2015:

Thanks, jacqklin, I appreciate it! I'll check your FB page too:)

Jill Quill from ITALY on April 11, 2015:

I love your article and interest in Anne Anderson, I have a similar passion. I added this article to my facebook page Anne Anderson Artist.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 11, 2014:

@BLouw: Her work is really special. Thanks for your visit!

Barbara Walton from France on February 10, 2014:

I was just thinking about the illustrations in the books of my childhood and came across Anne Anderson's pictures. How beautiful they are. what a lovely lens. So nice to see so many of her illustrations drawn together.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on May 24, 2013:

@WriterJanis2: You are always welcome here:)

WriterJanis2 on May 23, 2013:

I wanted to return to read this again and enjoy the illustrations.

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on March 01, 2013:

@kabbalah lm: Great!

kabbalah lm on February 28, 2013:

@TolovajWordsmith: I thought so

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 27, 2013:

@kabbalah lm: Sort of, yes:)

kabbalah lm on February 27, 2013:

Another great lens. Are you some sort of professor in this field?

Tolovaj Publishing House (author) from Ljubljana on February 26, 2013:

@lollyj lm: Thanks!

Laurel Johnson from Washington KS on February 26, 201