February/March: Writers and Ilustrators of Children’s Literature, and Images of Authors

This Month is rich with literary figures.  Two highly collectible ( growing more expensive) artists from England:  a rare original watercolor plate for a rare book illustrated by Janet ((1928-1979) nd Anne (1928-1998) Grahame-Johnstone . 

This beautiful little treasure has been SOLD to a lucky new owner. 

And then there is the delightful children’s book illustrator and water-colorist,  V(iolet)  H(ilda) Drummond (1911-2000)  gaining in popularity and price as her work becomes better known in the U.S.

And then, a perfect original signed print made by Henry Wolf who became one of the most famous and popular illustrators of literary and commercial magazines of his day.

Here is an original illustration from the twin sisters, Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone, created for the book, Sir Lancelot of the Lake (1966) Long out of print. (UK) and featured on the last page: “Arthur Goes to Avalon”

  9″x13″ image (inside gold frame). Original watercolour painting for book.

This book is the story of Lancelot of the Lake by Roger Lancelyn Green with illustrations by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. It was published by Purnell in 1966. It is 77 pages long and oversized with illustrations on nearly every page.

Provenance: I fell in love with the illustrations and wrote to the publisher who gave me the address for the sisters in England about a possible purchase, and they told me the pictures were at the printers and if they were still intact they would sell me one. I chose this one because, like many people, I love the Arthurian Legend  and lo! I became an English teacher.

The Painting AND the book (The paper jacket is well-torn at the top and bottom edges, but the hardcover book itself is in prime condition. )

V.H. Drummond, another famous children’s author and illustrator in the UK, painted  this original (gouache): The Royal Blue and Greys at the Duke of York Monument.”


14″ by 21″ image size (inside multiple mattes and frame).

Provenance: I bought this wistful  painting many years ago in the Fortesque-Swann Galleries* in Londonfrom Viscount Ebrington, the future 8th  Earl of Fortescue himself. It was proudly displayed in the front window and I stopped to admire it. I was returning to the city from a visit to Suffolk  by train. It had been raining all day and I was in a sad state sans umbrella. As I stood staring at the picture, a handsome young man beckoned me inside with a “never mind” to my squishy, soaked shoes . He made an easy sale because my son who grew up to be a real soldier, loved things military from an early age.

(*The Swann-Fortescue Gallery at 238 Brompton Road was owned by Oliver Swann and The noble Earl Fortescue.)

This painting is in perfect condition, beautifully framed with the gallery card on the back as well as a brief biography of the artist with the information that Vi Drummond, whose married name was Mrs. Anthony Swetenham, won the 1957 Library Association Award for best illustrated children’s book of the year. She also created a series of art for BBC television and had five one-man exhibitions in London. Her popularity with collectors has been growing steadily.

(In 1994, the Viscountess Mary of Rothermere sold four of Drummond’s London scenes at Christies at auction.  They were estimated to sell for  200 to 300 dollars, but went for $1,265 each.)

V.H. Drummond who had lived in Paris and India before returning to her birthplace, London, lost her father, a member of the Scots Guards, to a bullet in the First World War in Ypres, France. She said once that when she wearied of painting books, she went outside and painted scenes around her home in London where she lived in St. John’s Wood.  As for the monument in the middle of the picture, if you saw the wonderful film, “The King’s Speech,” you know about  that Duke of York. This one, on top of the very tall monument, was the son of another George, the third, and when this duke died the entire army had to forfeit a day’s pay in order to cover the expense of the monument….Some say the reason it is so tall is that the Duke was trying to escape his creditors. He died two million dollars in debt. I wonder what the poorly paid soldiers thought of him while they went without their supper or such.    Did I mention it is beautifully framed by the British gallery?

A Portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson by Henry Wolf, born in Alsace 1852, died NYC 1916. A famous illustrator for Century Magazine, and others, whose wood engravings are extremely fragile. This one is museum-quality framed in archival papers and  black wood (by Grey Goose in Los Feliz ) and I will add a DVD of one of Stevenson’s greatest stories: Kidnapped, the BBC latest version with purchase of the picture. Original 1909 Wood Engraving signed by the artist.  

I bought this image of Virginia Woolf,  the famous (Here rendered large) portrait directly from the National Portrait Gallery while a student in London. It is 36 x 24. Professionally framed in thick black wood by Grey Goose Gallery in L.A. with museum barrier papers/ matte and backing to last a hundred years. It has been hanging over my writing desk for years, but still nothing even remotely approaching To the Lighthouse has come from me.

*gouache is a heavy opaque watercolor medium.

An original photo of Lawrence of Arabia and Lowell Thomas on site. This picture above is the tinted plate in the London War Museum, but I have an original black and white given me by the famed reporter himself after I interviewed him on a TV show. It is signed LARGE, “To Joan, Lowell Thomas” in black ink. I will add autographed books the famous “voice” of movie newsreels, the inventor of Cinerama, and world explorer sent me from his home in New York after our fateful meeting. (Including With Lawrence in Arabia.)


Did you know that T.E. Lawrence lost the complete mss. of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom on the underground train when taking it to his publishers? The book we know is rewritten from scratch? An amazing story, an amazing book! Have you read it yet? It’s all on www.projectgutenberg.com

 Speaking of books: Here’s a very rare one. THE ROSSETTIS: DANTE GABRIEL AND CHRISTINA published in 1900 by G.P.Putnam and Sons in London and New York. Written by Elisabeth Luther (1867-1936) and beautifully bound in blue boards with lots of gold leaf print and decorations and with 25 (sepia toned,  not in color as shown here) prints, some found nowhere else. Portraits of the artists and models: Miss Siddall and more. Includes prints of some of the most famous portraits: “Joan of Arc” and “Lillith” for example, and the double portrait of Christina with her mother. Lots of interesting stuff on his female subjects…..Ah,  those Pre-Raphaelite captured in print by a Victorian writer!

A lovely book that could be parted out and the pictures sold separately making the book even more valuable, but I’ll let you reap the benefits of keeping something for its investment value. The book is somewhat worn for its 111 years of existence but it is still in such good condition it would be a shame to destroy it while it is still an interesting read.


*R.L. Stevenson also wrote Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, The Black Arrow, A Child’s Garden of Verses, and  many wonderful essays. He lived in the U.S. for a while and then moved to Samoa where he died young, of TB.


The Royal Horseguards have a long interesting history you might look up.

and while you are at it,  you can look up the long line of Fortescues whose name comes from their first Anglo-Norman ancestor who reportedly saved the conqueror in 1066 with his mighty sword. Their seat is Ebrington Manor in  Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire and Castle Hill, Devon.

For any further information about anything displayed on this page, or for questions you may have, please email me at www.joanjohnson4@msn.com 

Anne and Janet Grahame-Johnstone working together.


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