MARGARET TARRANT (1888-1959)

From the late 1900s, Margaret Tarrant was preoccupied with chronicling innocent childhood in its many moods and its great variety of activities. read more...

From the late 1900s, Margaret Tarrant was preoccupied with chronicling innocent childhood in its many moods and its great variety of activities. From 1920, her talents were channelled by her most important business relationship, with the Medici Society, which still publishes her books, cards and calendars today. Though her approach could seem highly idealised, even romanticised, its success lies in the degree to which it was grounded in close observation and the discipline of drawing from life.

Margaret Tarrant was born in Battersea, London, on 19 August 1888, the only child of the painter and illustrator, Percy Tarrant, who encouraged her early artistic talents. She grew up in Margate, Kent, and Clapham, London, and was educated at Clapham High School (1898-1905), where she won several prizes for drawing. In 1905, she began to train as an art teacher, but a lack of confidence in her ability to teach led her father to guide her into his own profession of illustrator. Soon after the family’s move to Gomshall, Surrey, she illustrated her first book, a new edition of Kingsley’s
The Water Babies (1908), and, from then on, was preoccupied with chronicling childhood in its innocence, its many moods and its great variety of activities. Developing her talents through many and varied commissions and through further studies at the Heatherley School of Fine Art (1918, 1921, 1923), she also exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1914 and 1927, and at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

Tarrant began her most important business relationship only in 1920, with the Medici Society; ranging from books to calendars, her work for Medici gave her wide exposure and made her a much-loved figure throughout the 1920s and 30s. Following the death of her parents in 1934, she moved to Peaslake, Surrey, and made friends with the artist Molly Brett, whom she met on a course at Guildford School of Art. However, she was able to accept her circumstances and return to painting only in 1936, when the Medici Society sent her to Palestine; from that time, her religious paintings took on a new aspect. She continued to work until 1953, when her health, and particularly her eyesight, deteriorated. In 1958, she finally let her house in Peaslake, and joined Molly Brett in Cornwall. However, she died at her home, Troon, Wonham Way, Peaslake, on 28 July 1959.

Further reading:
John Gurney,
Margaret Tarrant and Her Pictures, London: The Medici Society, 1982
Claire Houghton, ‘Tarrant, Margaret Winifred (1888-1959)’, in H C G Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds),
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, vol 53, pages 791-792

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Children's LiteratureIllustrations  
HEADING TO CHAPTER 6 by MARGARET TARRANT

HEADING TO CHAPTER 6

HEADING TO CHAPTER 8 AND LAST by MARGARET TARRANT

HEADING TO CHAPTER 8 AND LAST

TOM DIVED DOWN
HEADING TO CHAPTER 3 by MARGARET TARRANT

TOM DIVED DOWN HEADING TO CHAPTER 3

'NOW,' SAID TOM, 'I AM READY TO BE OFF, IF IT'S TO THE WORLD'S END '
 by MARGARET TARRANT

'NOW,' SAID TOM, 'I AM READY TO BE OFF, IF IT'S TO THE WORLD'S END '

SHE ... BADE HIM GOODBYE by MARGARET TARRANT

SHE ... BADE HIM GOODBYE

THE PROFESSOR POKED HIM by MARGARET TARRANT

THE PROFESSOR POKED HIM

INTO THE STREET THE PIPER STEPT by MARGARET TARRANT

INTO THE STREET THE PIPER STEPT

TOM AND ELLIE by MARGARET TARRANT

TOM AND ELLIE

TOM THUMB by MARGARET TARRANT

TOM THUMB

AT LAST THE PEOPLE IN A BODY
TO THE TOWN HALL CAME FLOCKING by MARGARET TARRANT

AT LAST THE PEOPLE IN A BODY TO THE TOWN HALL CAME FLOCKING

THE NURSERY DANCE by MARGARET TARRANT

THE NURSERY DANCE

I SAW A SHIP A SAILING by MARGARET TARRANT

I SAW A SHIP A SAILING

POLLY FLINDERS by MARGARET TARRANT

POLLY FLINDERS

IF I'D AS MUCH MONEY AS I COULD TELL by MARGARET TARRANT

IF I'D AS MUCH MONEY AS I COULD TELL

WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO, MY PRETTY MAID? by MARGARET TARRANT

WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO, MY PRETTY MAID?

DICKORY DICKORY DOCK by MARGARET TARRANT

DICKORY DICKORY DOCK

SIMPLE SIMON by MARGARET TARRANT

SIMPLE SIMON

BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP by MARGARET TARRANT

BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP

LUCY LOCKET LOST HER POCKET by MARGARET TARRANT

LUCY LOCKET LOST HER POCKET

NURSERY RHYMES by MARGARET TARRANT

NURSERY RHYMES

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