THE ILLUSTRATORS 2017 : ATTWELL, MABEL LUCIE (1879-1964)

Mabel Lucie Attwell
Mabel Lucie Attwell, SWA (1879-1964)



Mabel Lucie Attwell developed her own imaginative, and often amusing, imagery through annuals and postcards. read more...
Mabel Lucie Attwell
Mabel Lucie Attwell, SWA (1879-1964)

Mabel Lucie Attwell developed her own imaginative, and often amusing, imagery through annuals and postcards. Then, as her popularity increased, she applied it to a wide range of products. She was a household name by the 1920s, by which time no home was complete without an Attwell plaque or money-box biscuit-tin.

The daughter of a butcher, Mabel Lucie Attwell was born in Mile End, London, on 4 June 1879. She was educated privately and at the Coopers’ Company Coborn School, in the Bow Road, where she showed an early talent for art. She funded her own studies at Heatherley’s and St Martin’s School of Art (1895-1900), and met her future husband, painter and illustrator, Harold Earnshaw, while at the latter. However, disliking the formal training, she completed neither course, and turned with some relief to contributions to periodicals and commissions for illustrated gift books. Influences on her work included her friend, Hilda Cowham, and such members of the London Sketch Club as John Hassall and William Heath Robinson. After her husband lost his arm, through active service in the First World War, she became the mainstay of the family. In 1922, she produced the first of her hugely successful children’s annuals. Three years later, she was elected to the Society of Women Artists. A rapid and prolific worker, with a keen business sense, Attwell also designed cards, posters, calendars, figurines and wall plaques, and saw her creations turned into crockery patterns and soft toys.

For most of her career, Attwell lived between London and Sussex with her husband. Following his death (in 1937) and bomb damage to her two London homes (in 1940), she moved to Foxfold, Wiltshire. At the end of the Second World War, she settled in Fowey, Cornwall, with her son Peter as a companion, and remained there until her death on 5 November 1964. Her business was carried on by her daughter, Marjorie (known as Peggy).


Chris Beetles’ biography of Mabel Lucie Attwell, published by Pavilion Books in 1985, sold out in hardback, and is now published in paperback by Chris Beetles Ltd.

Further reading:
Brian Alderson (rev), ‘Attwell [married name Earnshaw], Mabel Lucie (1879-1964)’, H C G Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds),
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, vol 2, pages 885-887
LUCIE ATTWELL'S ANNUAL 1963 by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

LUCIE ATTWELL'S ANNUAL 1963

WOT'S THE GOOD OF HAVING A PERFECT DAY IF YOU CAN'T HAVE A PERFECT NIGHT? by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

WOT'S THE GOOD OF HAVING A PERFECT DAY IF YOU CAN'T HAVE A PERFECT NIGHT?

WOT I NEEDS   IS TO WIN A NICE LITTLE 'SWEEP!' by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

WOT I NEEDS IS TO WIN A NICE LITTLE 'SWEEP!'

WE KNOW   EVERY DAY IT'S THE SAME OLD GRIND  
WITH COOKING AN' CLEANING AN' BABIES TO MIND  
 by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

WE KNOW  EVERY DAY IT'S THE SAME OLD GRIND WITH COOKING AN' CLEANING AN' BABIES TO MIND

JUST TO REMIND YOU WE'RE MOVING by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

JUST TO REMIND YOU WE'RE MOVING

HOW AM I DOIN'? by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

HOW AM I DOIN'?

THERE'S ONE THING WORSE THAN BEING MARRIED   THAT'S NOT BEING MARRIED by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

THERE'S ONE THING WORSE THAN BEING MARRIED THAT'S NOT BEING MARRIED

KEEP IT DARK   I'LL BE SEEING YOU SOON! by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

KEEP IT DARK I'LL BE SEEING YOU SOON!

BEFORE WE CLOSE OUR BLACKOUTS
THIS IS WHAT WE'LL DO   
YOU SEND A LOVING THOUGHT TO ME
AN' I'LL SEND ONE TO YOU! by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

BEFORE WE CLOSE OUR BLACKOUTS THIS IS WHAT WE'LL DO   YOU SEND A LOVING THOUGHT TO ME AN' I'LL SEND ONE TO YOU!

PETROL RATIONS   NUFFING! I'LL GET ALONG ALL RIGHT! by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

PETROL RATIONS NUFFING! I'LL GET ALONG ALL RIGHT!

'WHY DO YOU PLAY THIS GOLF?' SAYS SHE
'TO KEEP MESELF FIT, OF COURSE!' SAYS HE
'FIT FOR WOT, PRAY SAY?' SAYS SHE
FIT TO PLAY GOLF, OLE DEAR!' SAYS HE by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

'WHY DO YOU PLAY THIS GOLF?' SAYS SHE 'TO KEEP MESELF FIT, OF COURSE!' SAYS HE 'FIT FOR WOT, PRAY SAY?' SAYS SHE FIT TO PLAY GOLF, OLE DEAR!' SAYS HE

GOING THROUGH LIFE WITH A SMILE   A SONG   
AN' HELPING ONE'S FELLOW MAN ALONG! by MABEL LUCIE ATTWELL

GOING THROUGH LIFE WITH A SMILE A SONG AN' HELPING ONE'S FELLOW MAN ALONG!