Amy Millicent Sowerby
(1878-1967)
Childhood

Millicent Sowerby was born in Northumberland, England, the daughter of designer and illustrator John G. Sowerby. When Sowerby was young, her father wrote and illustrated books for children, copying the style of Kate Greenaway, later turning to landscapes. 

Education

Finding encouragement at home, Sowerby started painting at an early age. She took some art classes for several years but distance prevented her from attending them for more than two days a week. Mostly, she was self-taught, learning from the work of other illustrators.

Professional Career

In an attempt to help their family’s finances, Sowerby and her sister Githa collaborated on children’s books. Githa wrote the stories and verses while Sowerby illustrated them for over twenty years. Sowerby was also a prolific illustrator of children’s picture post cards, depicting scenes from Shakespeare, and Kate Greenaway type girls. Later, she designed thirty sets of cards for a yearly series called ‘Postcards for the Little Ones’. 

When Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland went out of copyright in 1907, like other illustrators, Sowerby was commissioned to illustrate it

Well into her eighties, Sowerby remained a watercolorist and painted flowers.
 

Influences, Style & Technique

She had a fondness for children so naturally, she chose them as her subjects.

“It has always been the beautiful in childhood that has attracted me. I love flowers and bright colours, and I generally use these in the backgrounds for my paintings of children.” 
Her early work exhibits strong outlines, flat color and oftentimes hand-lettering. Her later work was more painterly and looser.
 

Children’s Books Illustrated

  • Sowerby, Githa, The Wise Book, Dent, 1906.

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  • Carroll, Lewis, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chatto, 1907, New York, Duffield, 1908.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, Childhood, London, Chatto & Windus, 1907, New York, Duffield, 1907.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, The Bumbletoes, London, Chatto & Windus, 1907.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, The Merry Book, Oxford, 1908.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, Yesterday’s Children, Chatto & Windus, 1908.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, The Happy Book, 1909.

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  • Stevenson, Robert Louis, A Child’s Garden of Verses, Scribner, 1909.

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  • Stevenson, Robert Louis, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, 1909.

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  • Stevenson, Robert Louis, Little Stories for Little People, 1910.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, Little Plays for Little People, 1910.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, My Birthday, 1911.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, Poems of Childhood,. Henry Frowde & Hodder & Stoughton, 1912.

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  • Sowerby, Githa and Joan, Natalie, The Gay Book, 1915.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, Cinderella, New York, Hodder & Stoughton, 1915, New York, Oxford, 1915.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, The Dainty Book, 1915.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, The Bright Book, 1915.

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  • Meade, L. T., The Angel of Love, London, Frowde/Hodder, c. 1915.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, The Bonny Book, Oxford, 1918.

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  • Fyleman, Rose, The Sunny Book, Oxford, 1918.

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  • Joan, Natalie, The Glad Book, Oxford, 1921.

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  • Sowerby, Githa and Joan, Natalie, The Darling Book, Oxford, 1922.

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  • Joan, Natalie, The Joyous Book, Oxford, 1923.

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  • Stevenson, Robert Louis, Cinderella’s Play Book, 1927. 

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  • My Own Picture Book (with Anne Anderson), New York, Barse & Co., c. 1930.

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  • Strang, Baby’s Books, Oxford.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, Children.

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  • Sowerby, Githa, The Pretty Book.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Illustrated by Amy Millicent Sowerby
 

Stevenson, Robert Louis,
A Child's Garden of 
Verses, 1908.
Stevenson, Robert Louis,
A Child's Garden of
Verses, 1908.
Stevenson, Robert Louis,
A Child's Garden of
Verses, 1908.
Stevenson, Robert Louis,
A Child's Garden of
Verses, 1908.
Sowerby, Githa,
Yesterday's Children,
Chatto & Windus, 1908. 

 
Stevenson, Robert Louis, A Child's Garden of Verses, 1908.
Sources
Dalby, Richard, The Golden Age of Children's Book Illustration, New York, Gallery, 1991.
Horne, Alan, The Dictionary of 20th Century British Book Illustrators, Suffolk, Antique Collector’s Club, 1994.
Mahoney, Bertha E. and Whitney, Elinor, Contemporary Illustrators of Children’s Books, The Book Shop for Boys and Girls, Boston, 1930. 
Mahony, Bertha E., Illustrators of Children's Books 1744-1945, Boston: The Horn Book, 1947.
Peppin, Brigid, and Micklethwait, Lucy, Book Illustrators of the Twentieth Century, New York, Arco, 1984.
© 1999–2002 Denise Ortakales
All Illustrations are copyright by their respective owners.
This page last updated on 24 August 2002.

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