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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|The following, submitted September 2005, is from Thomas MacLellan Hall, the grandson of
Kenneth F. MacLellan, who was a friend of Edward Arthur
Thomas Hall wrote: "My grandfather went into
the packaged food business, eventually forming United Biscuit Company
in Chicago, the precursor to Keebler. Whatever the origin of
their friendship, my grandfather acquired a spectacular pen and ink
drawing Mr. Wilson did of a Japanese coronation. He eventually
gave that drawing to my uncle, who later gave it to me. We now
have it proudly displayed in our dining room. A letter from my
grandfather is taped to the back of the frame and it includes the
photostats transcribed below."
The first photostat is from the Provincetown Advocate, Thursday, October 8, 1970
"Edward A. Wilson"
Edward A. (Arthur) Wilson, 84, well-known book illustrator and print
maker, died October 2, at Dobbs Ferry (N.Y.) Hospital after long
Since 1947, and until recently, Mr. Wilson has lived in Truro.
Mr. Wilson, a collection of whose illustrations for books and
advertising (The Book of Edward A. Wilson: A Survey of His Work) was
published in 1948 by The Heritage Press (associated with The Limited
Editions Club) was given the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame Medal
in 1962, being among the half dozen or so recipients of this
medal. He was made an Associate member of the National Academy in
1948 and his book illustrations were featured in Life magazine (April 23) in 1945. Life called him "of the first rank among modern U.S. book illustrators.
Born on March 4, 1886 in Glasgow, Scotland, Mr. Wilson came to the U.S.
in 1893. He studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago and with
the father of modern blockwork illustration, Howard Pyle. Mr.
Wilson's first important book illustrations were for a book of sea
chanteys, Iron Men and Wooden Ships, published in 1924 by Doubleday, and Full And By (1925), a collection of drinking songs with prefaces byDon Marquis and Christopher Morley, for the same publisher.
These were followed by some seventy (70) other books, mainly classics, particularly about the sea, such as Two Years Before The Mast, a limited edition (Lakeside Press, 1930) and Ranging The Maine Coast (W.W. Norton, 1939).
Besides book illustration, Mr. Wilson did illustrations for national
magazines and many national advertising campaigns. He also did
lithographic prints which are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the
New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.
Mr. Wilson was a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, a member of
the American Institute of Graphic Arts and of the Society of
He is survived by his widow, the former Dorothy Roe, and two daughters,
Mrs. Joseph Anthony, the wife of the Broadway director and teacher, and
Jane Wilson, and editor of Horizon magazine, a brother, Harold
F. of Novato, Calif., vice president of the Bank of Marin, and two
grandchildren, Peter and Ellen Anthony.
There will be no funeral services. In lieu of flowers contributions may be sent to the Truro Historical Society.
The second photostat is:
"Truro Tales" by Grace Deschamps (also from the Provincetown Advocate)
"Eddie" Wilson would have enjoyed the gathering of old Truro friends
Friday afternoon at the home of Mrs. Frank A. Aiken of north Pamet
Road. They were there to welcome back here for a visit Mrs.
Dorothy Wilson, widow of the distinguished artist who died Oct. 2 in a
Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. hospital - and to greet other members of the Wilson
family who were Mrs. Aiken's guests for the weekend. (Mrs.
Wilson's daughter, Jane Wilson, her son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and
Mrs. Joseph Anthony, and the Anthony's son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and
Mrs. Peter Anthony). Mrs. Wilson herself would remain for a longer
visit with her hostess, for many years a close personal friend of the
It was in keeping with the easy, affectionate relationship between the
late Edward Wilson and his Truro friends that so many of them at the
gathering referred to him as "Eddie." Associate member of the
National Academy, Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts - to name
only two of the honors heheld - Edward Wilson was "Eddie" to those who
knew him here.
Before this reporter had met Mr. Wilson, but aware of his place in the
arts - and being habitually respectful of another's title - she was
always a little unprepared to hear friends call him "Eddie." After an
interview with the artist at his home here it was easy to understand
He had been awarded the rarely bestowed Society of Illustrators Hall of
Fame Medal and the reporter went to ask him some questions about his
notable career. She was never quite sure afterwards who had
People who have achieved fame have every right to talk about themselves
and interviewers are usually happy to have them do so. But Edward
Wilson's interest in people and events was evident from the start; he
himself asked questions and he was a talented listener. That he
had known all kinds of people was clear from the characterizations he
captured in his art.
He had also known many who were famous in one way or another and who
had sojourned here and he had a wealth of reminiscences enlivened with
the humor for which he was noted.
It was a humor no less enjoyable because it was without malice.
It was a great deal of life itself that the artist could chuckle about
and you came away thinking that some people are born with not one gift
but many - not along some unique wealth of talent but with it the grace
that comes from a complete absence of vanity or self-importance.
A feature of Friday's gathering was the opportunity to see goodly
sampling of Edward Wilson's work; some of the lithographs, prints and
woodcuts that enhance more than 70 books, most of them classics and
most of them about the sea. in the illustrations he did for national
magazines and ntional advertising campaigns were the power and motion
that raised the art of illustration to a new dimension.
"It is probable," wrote one critic, "that not more than two or three
living artists have done so much to establish an American tradition in
illustration." And again, a few years ago: "It is probable there
is not an artist alive who can match Edward A. Wilson in creation of
illustrations of a salty tale of the sea or of a stirring,
swashbuckling story." The artist knew there was drama inlife, and
in his evocation of a battered ship or a lonely dwelling he could get
And Truro Scenes:
In the Wilson collection were also lithgraphs of Truro - the old
Methodist Church (destroyed by lightning) sitting in lonely grandeur on
a South Truro hill: a scene on the South Pamet Road, just two old
barns but touched with the artist's inner light; the old Joe Atwood
house, now owned by Mrs. Arthur Williams.
It was coincidence that the Advocate of Oct. 8 that carried the
obituary of Edward Wilson also carried the half-forgotten story of the
wreck of 1854 of the famed steamship Artic of the Collins Line founded
by Truro's Edward K. Collins.
"I wish Eddie might have read it," Mrs. Wilson wrote this
reporter. Edward Wilson had long been interested in the Collins
story. He had collected prints of all of the Collins liners and
indeed years ago he had offered his collection to the Town.
Apparently because the Town officials felt they had no space to
accommodate the prints they declined the offer.
Mr. Wilson then loaned them to the Wellfleet Historical Museum.
He was finally persuaded to accept a collector's handsome offer for the
collection - although he would have preferred to have given them to
Truro. (He gave one fine print of the Collins liner Atlantic to
the Truro Historical Museum - in addition to other valuable gifts.)
In 1938, the artist's daughter, Jane, (on the staff of Horizon Magazine)
thoroughly researched Edward K. Collins' career and Mr. Wilson later
signed a contract with a publishing company to do a book on
Collins. He was too busy to write the book, himself, and his art
was pictorial. The writer contracted by the publishing company to
do the text, however, died of a heart attack a week later and the book
failed to develop. (Mr. Wilson himself had accepted no advance on the
book although the writer had).
Years later the artist turned over his research to a friend who planned
to write a Collins book, although all that came of it eventually was an
article in American Heritage. Mr. Wilson also owned
clippings from British and other newspapers about Collins Line ships
which he loaned to a Wellfleet museum. It is expected that these will
now be placed in the Truro Historical Museum.
Edward Wilson was 84 when he died.
In 1966 he did the illustrations here for two books: Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth and Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome.
The artist's granddaughter, Ellen Anthony, who is teaching in a school
in St. Anthony, Newfoundland (recruited for the job by Grenfell
Mission) has written her own requiem for her grandfather. It is a
worthy piece of prose, with the restraint of feeling the artist would
have appreciated. It is attached to a Wilson lithograph of Truro.
Robert Louis Stevenson in his Requiem said it another way: "Home is the
sailor, home from the sea." Edward Wilson had transferred to wood and
stone and parchment his own blood and kinship with seamen and the sea
and he had made them vivid for millions. The old salt on a cargo
ship, the longshoreman, the connoisseur of the arts- to all of them
Edward Wilson was a man who knew his business."
Another small piece of paper in the envelope has the following typed on it: (Books illustrated by Wilson)
Robinson Crusoe (1930)
Last of the Mohicans (1932)
Green Mansions (1935)
Anthont Adverse (1935)
Treasure Island (1941)
"Westward Ho" (1947)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1952)
Around the World in 80 Days (1962)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1966)
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