University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Letters to Gordon Browne

1875 - 1937

Manuscript Collection Number: 390
Accessioned: Purchase, August 1992.
Extent: .3 linear ft. (83 items).
Content: Letters.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: September 1999 by Anita A. Wellner.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

British painter illustrator Gordon Frederick Browne was born at Banstead, Surrey in 1858. His father was Hablot Knight Browne, who as "Phiz" was noted for his illustrations of the books written by Charles Dickens. Gordon Browne studied at Heatherley's School of Art and South Kensington Schools, adopting his father's profession of book illustration. While still a student, Browne began accepting commissions as an illustrator, largely to support his family after an illness incapacitated his father.

Beginning in the 1880s Gordon Browne was one of Great Britain's most prolific illustrators, contributing regularly to many newspapers and magazines, as well as illustrating editions of books written by Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe, 1885), Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels, 1886), Washington Irving (Rip Van Winkle, 1887), and Robert Louis Stevenson (Island Nights Entertainment, 1893). He also illustrated eight volumes of works by William Shakespeare, an edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales (1894), and his own Gordon Browne's Series of Old Fairy Tales (1886-1887).

His illustrations appeared periodically in The Illustrated London News, The Quiver, The Sporting and Dramatic News, Cassell's Saturday Journal, Cassell's Family Magazine, The Boy's Own Paper, The Girl's Own Paper, The Pall Mall Magazine, The Sunday Strand, Little Folks, The Penny Magazine, and Puck. Some of his humorous drawings appeared as illustrations for his own comic books, which Browne wrote using the pseudonym "A. Nobody."

Although Gordon Browne never achieved the critical acclaim accorded his father -- in part because he never developed a longterm association with a noted author -- his work was recognized by his election to the Royal Institute in 1896. After living for years at Richmond, Surrey, Gordon Browne died on May 27, 1932.


Houfe, Simon. The Dictionary of 19th Century British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists. Woodbridge, England: Antique Collectors' Club, 1996. p. 77.

Peppin, Brigid and Lucy Micklethwait. Book Illustrators of the Twentieth Century. New York: Arco Publishing, Inc., 1984. pp. 59-61.

Scope and Content Note

This collection of letters to Gordon Browne consists of eighty-three letters written between 1875 and 1937, seventy-seven of which are addressed to this renowned British illustrator. All letters are holograph, with the exception of two typed letters. The letters have been arranged chronologically, with undated material assembled at the end of the collection.

Many of the letters were written by authors expressing gratitude for illustrations which Browne created for their books or stories. Occasionally authors wrote to suggest ideas for a future illustration or to request that Browne illustrate a particular book or story. For example, Julia Horatio Ewing wrote detailing ideas for her latest book, Alfred St. Johnston thanked him for his illustrations of "The Quest of Gold," and B. L. Farjeon requested that Browne illustrate a novel that was to be serialized in The Illustrated London News.

Other letters include requests from authors, collectors, or friends to purchase original drawings or paintings, or thank-you notes for Browne's generosity with his drawings or paintings. The collection includes a fan letter from a child and researcher Frederic George Kitton's inquiry regarding Gordon Browne's father, Hablot Knight Browne -- the noted illustrator known as "Phiz."

In his letter requesting an autograph, Thomas Hutchinson includes his poem "My Model Yacht," which he initialed and inscribed to Browne. In a letter asking Browne to illustrate an article she planned to write concerning Jerusalem, London newspaper reporter Mary Boyle O'Reilly described her experience in Jerusalem just prior to World War I. The Portsmouth & Hampshire Art Society wrote to notify Browne of his election as an honorary member of the society, and Vincent Starrett reflected on his visits to England and his friendship with Browne.

There are six letters which were not addressed to Browne. One is a note written by Browne to an unidentified person, accompanied an enclosure which is no longer present. Other letters include two personal letters from "Lara" to "Melia,"a letter from Edgar Sheppard inviting an unidentified individual to preach at Chapel Royal St. James, a letter from Jack Dodworth written (and illustrated) to H. J. Thompson, and a note from the Dean of Westminster to Redmayne & Company regarding a recent bill.

Of the letters addressed to Browne, many reflect the respect given to Browne and his illustrations by his contemporaries. They also indicate the demand for his work in the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Browne's generosity in sharing it.

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

          Series I.  Letters to Gordon Browne, 1875-1937
               All letters are addressed to Gordon Browne unless otherwise noted.

F1   Letters, 1875-1887
     1875 Sep 3          ALS       2p        Ewing, Juliana Horatio
     1877 Jul 24         ALS       1p        Buckley, William
     1883 Oct 26         ALS       1p        Austen, D. F.
          Nov 23         ALS       3p        Unidentified
     1884 Nov 1          ALS       4p        Unidentified
     1885 Feb 26         ALS       8p        Ewing, Juliana Horatio
          May 18         ALS       1p        [Gattis?], Alfred Scott
          Nov 9          ALS       1p        Farjeon, B. L.
          Nov 24         ALS       3p        Stables, William Gordon
          Dec 24         ALS       2p        St. Johnston, Alfred
     1886 Dec 16         ALS       1p        C. Kegan Paul
     1887 Feb 10         ALS       2p        Farjeon, B. L.
          Apr 20         ALS       2p        Farjeon, B. L.

F2   Letters, 1889-1896
     1889 Apr 1          ALS       4p        Burnand, F. C. (Francis Cowley),
                                                  Sir, 1836-1917
          May 14         ALS       3p        MacKenzie, John
     1890 Dec 30         ALS       2p        [Canty, Horace H. ?]
     1893 May 25         ANS       1p        Browne, Gordon
          Note:  Written to an unidentified individual.
          Jun 20         ALS       2p        Wornum, L. Porter
     [1894]    Dec 19    ALS       2p        Stitt, J. Carlton
     1895 Jan 1          ALS       2p        Bale, Edwin
          Jul 10         ALS       3p        Colvin, Sidney
          Aug 5          ALS       3p        Avery, Harold
          Nov 23         ALS       3p        Hutchinson, Thomas
          Dec 7          ALS       3p        Halse, George
     1896 Feb 10         ALS       2p        Canton, William
          Mar 3          ALS       3p        Kitton Frederic George, 1856-1904
          Nov 25         ALS       2p        [Stitt, J. Carelton?]

F3   Letters, 1897-1901
     1897 Jul 9          ALS       1p        Burnand, F. C. (Francis Cowley),
                                                  Sir, 1836-1917
     1898 Aug 17         ALS       2p        Williams, Ursula A.
          Aug 26         ALS       3p        Warner, Lily
          Nov 20         ALS       3p        Darton, F. J. Harvey (Frederick
                                             Joseph Harvey), 1878-1936 
     1899 Mar 8          ALS       2p        Rambant, A. Beatrice          
          Mar 10         ALS       3p        Stevens, W. (printer of The Leisure
          Jun 1          ALS       4p        [Cope, A. S. ?]
     1900 Feb 3          ALS       2p        MacKintosh, J. Glora
          Note:  Includes one page of ink sketches by unidentified artist.
          Oct 17         ALS       1p        Harraden, Herbert
     1901 Apr13          ALS       6p        Hammonde, Daphne

F4   Letters, 1903-1909
     1903 Jul 18         ALS       3p        Bell, Warren
     1904 Feb 13         ALS       8p        Clifford, Lucy (Clifford, W. K.,
                                                  Mrs., d. 1929)
     [1906]    Dec 27    ALS       2p        Soord, Alfred to Miss Cridland
     1908 Oct 24         ALS       2p        Hope, M. I.
     1909 Feb 14         ALS       1p        Ormrod, James Dixon
          Note:  Includes a clipping of a poem by Ormrod based on illustrations by Browne.
          Feb 22         ALS       4p        Garratt, Frank A. (photographer)
          May 6          ALS       2p        Dodworth, Jack to H. J. Thompson
          Note:  Letter written to H. J. Thomposon, with one illustration included.
          Dec 18         ALS       2p        Garratt, Frank A.
     190?                ALS       2p         Kernahan, Coulson, 1858-1943 

F5   Letters, 1912-1917
     1912 May 8          ANS       1p        [Bundy, Edgar ?]
     1913 Jun 17         ALS       2p        Deed, Neville G.
          Nov 8          ALS       1p        Downing, George H
     1915 Jan 18         ALS       2p        Blaikley, Ernest
          Apr 29         ALS       2p        Dadd, Frank, 1851-1929
          Oct 25         ALS       4p        Foster, John, 1867-
     1916 Jan 18         TLS       1p        O'Reilly, Mary Boyle, 1873-1939
     1917 Mar 7          ALS       1p        White, Geoffrey H.
          Aug 9          ALS       1p        Channon, Ethel Mary, 1875-

F6   Letters, 1921-1924
     1921 Dec 13         TLS       1p        Thomson, Basil, 1861-1939
     1922 Feb 12         AL        2p        [McEvoy, Joseph C.]
          Note:  Letter is incomplete.
          Jun 21         ALS       2p        McEvoy, Joseph C.
          Dec 5          ALS       2p        Unidentified
     1923 Jun 18         ALS       3p        Gullick, M. E.
     1924 Mar 4          ALS       4p        Unidentified
          May 26         TL        1p        La Revue Moderne
          Jun 3          ALS       2p        Sellick, G. Godfray
          Jun 7          ALS       2p        Hartley, Alford
          Nov 20         ALS       2p        Starrett, Vincent, 1886-1974

F7   Letters, 1925-1937
     1925 Feb 17         ALS       2p        Starrett, Vincent, 1886-1974
          Mar 27         ALS       4p        Starrett, Vincent, 1886-1974
          May 5          ALS       2p        Starrett, Vincent, 1886-1974
     1928 Nov 28         ALS       2p        Starrett, Vincent, 1886-1974
     1937 Dec 29         ALS       2p        Dodgson, Campbell, 1867-1948

F8   Undated letters
     [n.y.]    Jul 13    ALS       2p        Atholl, Katharine Marjory
                                                       Stewart-Murray, Duchess of,
     [n.y.]    Mar 1     ALS       1p        Kitsen, James, Sir
     [n.y.]    Jan 29    ALS       4p        Halse
     [n.y.]    Aug 24    ALS       3p        Smith, Charles T.
     [n.y.]    Sunday    ALS       3p        Haas
     [n.y.]    Tuesday   ALS       1p        Eden, William
     [n.y.]    Thursday  ALS       1p        Unidentified
     [n.d.]              ALS       3p        Wells, Kathleen Deering
     [n.d.]              ANS       1p        Lee, James
     [n.d.]              ALS       1p        Mackay, John Gunn, 1849-
     [n.d.]              ALS       2p        Sheppard, Edgar, 1845-1921
          Note: It is unclear to whom this letter is addressed.  It is an invitation to preach at
               the Chapel Royal St. James.
     [n.d.]              ANS       1p        Dean of Westminster
               Note: Written to Redmayne & Company, enclosing a payment for a bill.
     [n.d.]              ALS       2p        Lara
               Note: Addressed to "Melia."
     [n.d.]              ALS       2p        Lara
               Note: Addressed to "Melia."

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